Teach Your Children Well

This morning, at the same time I was off-line erasing a page of my memoir manuscript into a poem about bringing lunches to grade school that were fodder for shame and teasing, a friend of mine was composing me a message about an unfortunate lunchroom experience regarding our daughters. It was not a joy-filled event, reading about my daughter’s unkind words and how they had hurt one of her peers. Things happen for a reason, the universe calls our attention to places where we need to focus our energies so that we can create opportunities for learning and shifting.

I sit writing this while listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Life is a circle of lessons premised on love. We learn from your children, they learn from us. Our greatest gift is to “teach them well.” This afternoon I will be sitting down with my daughter to talk about love and compassion. We’ll discuss the energy of words and how much it hurts when we are the recipient of an unkind word or action.  We’ll talk about how it’s okay to lead, as long as no one is left behind. That to be a true leader, one should lead with love that wraps and uplifts.  And we’ll talk about how it hurts ourselves, perhaps even more, when we hurt others. My daughter came home from school yesterday in a foul mood, and I knew something was bothering her from the events of the day, yet she chose not to share them with me.

When I was a child, I was shamed by my unconventional lunches. I looked at the slabs of nutrient-filled home-made bread only partially covering thick slabs of cheese and sprouts curling around the edges, and thought only about how much I wanted to throw my lunch away because my peers teased me. Yesterday, a child threw her lunch away because of my daughter. It breaks my heart. It brings me no comfort knowing that she is not the only child to do this in the lunchroom. Instead, it reinforces the need to teach my child well.

As most of us know, bullying starts from a place of fear. A child will bully to be popular. Children want to be loved and accepted by their peers (just as they want to be loved and accepted at home). I am comforted in the fact that I live in a community where many parents care enough to be involved in their children’s lives, and not to turn a blind-eye when their own child causes pain and suffering to others.

Now, I await the passing of hours until my daughter comes home off the bus, while I thank the universe for sending us this lesson and opportunity for growth. I hope that together we can shift this lunch-room atmosphere into a place of love and acceptance, that we will be joined by other parents and children who sit together and learn from each other in order to create an environment where everyone is treated with respect and compassion.

“Teach Your Children Well” — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young