The children WERE listening. Heard by me during school bus duty yesterday: (from a fourth grader) “He hates Black people, we’re all gonna die.” (from a 2nd grader in place of the usual good morning greeting) “Ms. Frisella, we’re doomed!” (from another 2nd grader) “He hates Black people and women.” (from the daughter of upstanding citizens, Haitian immigrants) “My brother says they’re gonna come to the door and take my parents back to Haiti.”
All of the above: beautiful, frightened, Black children.
Teachers, parents, everyone???
We’ve got a lot of work to do. Our kids are scared.
Get it together and start talking nice.
Give our kids ways to talk about the election in ways that make them feel safe and heard. Allay the fears-maybe by asking them things like, “So, moving forward, what are things we can do to make your life (this community, this country, the world) a better, more peaceful place? What actions can we take together that will make you feel safe?” Take away the helpless feeling of fear and replace it with positive action.
There is NO excuse for the United States to have had children living in fear yesterday because of the Presidential election results. The grownups did this (no finger-pointing; people in all parties are guilty of the animosity, of crafting fear-inciting ads, of sharing mean-spirited posts and un-fact-based “facts”, of re-posting great uncle Frank’s “share if you agree!” memes, and of the unkind kitchen table talk- and remember I teach elementary school and “S/he did it FIRST!” bounces right off teachers), and shame on us.
United States, people. Yep, for more than half of us, our candidate didn’t win. We have to move forward and do our best to make the best of an unwanted situation. That’s harder to do for little hearts and minds.
United States. How about we let our kids be kids? How about we stop scaring them? There’s something more important than anybody’s need to post or say something inflammatory.
What, you ask? What’s bigger than my need to make a point on Facebook and burn that old high school classmate who disagrees with me so I can give myself a little false validation? What’s more precious than me using my frantic little typing fingers to put someone down so I can feel superior for just one second?
They are listening. They have been all along, and they’ve been hearing some pretty scary stuff from us-from those of us whose sacred duty is to look out for them. Teachers, parents, grandparents, mentors and elected officials.
They’re afraid, and for many of them, rightfully so. What are we going to do to make them feel safe and heard?
What are YOU going to do to make them safe?