When my daughter was three she could sing the entire “Red Dwarf” theme song. She quotes “Monty Python” skits on a regular basis, she dressed as “Firefly’s” Kaylee at our “Firefly Fundraiser” party and she thinks Abed on “Community” is the coolest guy on TV. When she was six, she didn’t want to dress as a princess for Halloween, she went as Count Olaf as played by Jim Carry in “A Series of Unfortunate Events“… eye tattoo on the ankle, side burns and everything! At ten, she has serious conversations about God and the sanctity of all life. Her social studies project this year is “How Hunger Games Could Become a Reality”. Other kids are doing their projects on dolphins and lions. Pretty cool huh? We think so. Apparently however, the kids at school do not.
My little K is ostracized, excluded and bullied because she’s “weird”. Kids are mean, we all know that. My now 14-year-old son went through very similar difficulties at the same age. He really was the proverbial square peg in the round hole. Eventually he became so severely depressed I quit my job and homeschooled him for two years. This was NOT easy let me tell you! He was angry, depressed, with extremely low self-esteem and he was just plain sick of schooling in any form. It took some real perseverance and creativity to help free him from that negative place.
When I started homeschooling it was so stressful that I needed a doctor visit to help me figure out how to cope with the situation. I explained my situation to the nurse. She sat me down and listened, then told her own story. Her son was much like mine, commit suicide when he was 13. She wished that she had the resources to quit her job and take care of him the way I was able to do so with my son. A week after my visit I discovered a letter from this nurse in my mailbox. It was a copy of a poem she’d written after her son’s death
Believe in yourself, you have so much to offer.
God sure knew what he was doing, when he
first opened your eyes.
He makes no mistakes. he’s got your heart in His hands, that started beating with your very first cry.
You’re an original, there’s no one in the world even like you
no matter how hard you try to be part of the crowd.
So just believe in yourself, and the rest
will surely follow. Believe in God,
He can see through those clouds.
Sometimes life can be so hard to understand.
People aren’t’ always what they seem to be.
Be proud of who you are, God will take you by the hand.
Be for real, don’t give in, just believe.
That poem, printed on blue sky, cloudy paper and now faded, is still hanging from my desk beside my computer where I look at it every day.
Today my son is going on 15, he’s tall, has long blond hair in community of short haired kids and he’s comfortable enough in his own skin that he calls himself a “Brony” .”Bronies” are a fringe community of young men who are fans of the television show “My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic”. It’s true! Google it! C has the confidence to wear a girls large “My Little Pony 20% cooler” T-shirt to school and I am so proud! I firmly believe that the time I was able to spend with him homeschooling and building his esteem away from the school environment was the turning point in his life. Before this he had the fast pass to Juvie. Lets just say that the police department knew who he was and where he lived.
We are blessed. Most parents don’t have the option of quitting their jobs to pull their kids out of a toxic situation. Most parents have to send their kids on the bus every day and worry how they are getting along all day until they come home off the bus withdrawn or in tears. Most parents have to watch as their kid dissolves into a puddle of loneliness, depression, anger, and self-loathing and they don’t have the resources to pull them back out again. Bullying, ostracizing, and exclusivity kills the spirit and leads to violence that kids make either against themselves in such forms as “cutting”, and suicide, or against others with guns, knives and murder.
Last week I had the privilege to meet with Denise Gary from the organization “Kids Need to Read” program. Other Browncoats out there may recognize this as the reading charity sponsored and supported by our Big Damn Hero, Nathan Fillion. “Kids Need to Read” supplies books and reading programs to disadvantaged schools all over the U.S. One of those reading programs is called “Peace Packages” . The aim of the Peace Packages is to help our children develop problem solving skills, teach them peaceful conflict resolution, and help teach them that there are alternatives to aggression. Bullying isn’t natural behavior in children, it’s learned. If kids can be taught to be intolerant, exclusive and aggressive, then they can also be taught to be tolerant, inclusive and peaceful problem solvers.
I am an online, Amazon merchant. I started this small business as a homeschooling project with my son, but now that he’s back in the public school system I’ve decided to stick with it and build it into a “real” business. I’ve decided to donate a portion of my sales income to Kids Need to Read and I’ve specifically asked that my donations are put towards providing schools with Peace Packages. My goal is to be able to provide one peace package a month.
Also, our community has several Browncoats that like to meet at our house regularly for “Firefly” showings. I plan to discuss with them putting out a “Gorram cuss pot”. Maybe every time one of the characters swears in Chinese we can drop a quarter into the pot and donate it towards a Kids Need to Read, Peace Package. They don’t know about this idea yet, but I’m sure they will say “Shiny!”