It starts early in life with the communication to the kids about anything different from what they are use to in their short experiences. So difference can bring many questions to a young a child, because of the inquisitiveness that brings with it. Now if the curiosity is not answered, avoided, and/or ignored then the child starts to make his or her own assumptions about what they just saw, which brings many different emotions to the unknown mind. These emotions can bring fear, judgment, ignorance, and even can lead to hatred for mysterious reasons. I really don’t like to use this word, but when a child see’s someone with a physical or mental handicap, the curiosity is going to set in and the child’s reaction might be an explosive one, which causes attention to his or her actions. Now, the reaction is not one of mean spirited at the time, but just needs guidance to the unusual visual experience. You’ll notice that I will use this phrase throughout my program for success; “Let’s turn question marks to periods!”
Here’s an example of one of many situations that I come across daily:
When in public, an adult notices me; however, they aren’t as obvious as a child. The adult will glare from a corner, whereas a child will look and question why I’m unusual right in front of me. I hear children ask his/her parents “Mommy or Daddy, look at that guy! Why is he so short? He looks funny! etc.” and the parent’s usual response is to grab their child, tell them not to gawk, and then the child gets punished. Ouch, that hurts me just as much as the child at the time, because he or she just was curious about something that they have never seen before in their short life span. So now, the child grows up to think that something is wrong without even meeting me. Not even realizing it, the parent is pushing the child to think that something is unusual or better yet immoral about me. This is where the message is SO important. When it comes to children, I always try to come to the child and introduce myself before the parent gets too embarrassed with the public out call. Now, the communication starts and if the child has a question, because he or she is curious, it’s answered right away. Then usually within five minutes the child is having a conversation with me about whatever is going on in his or her life. The focus changes right away because it wasn’t made into a big deal and the punishment was avoided. So the next time that child sees someone that looks like me or with dwarfism, he/she will understand and say: “Oh that person is like Stevie”, and it won’t be a big issue. Therefore the child allows me to be in his or her “inner circle” without even realizing it.
LIVING OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE – ANTI BULLYING
Bullying, where does it come from and how does it get started? Why would any child or adult have the feeling or need to bully someone else around him or her? Again, it all starts with the communication between individuals, so the dissimilarities in people won’t be so shocking during the first impressions. In society it seems sometimes the first impressions of each other last a lifetime, unless they are tackled and / or explained at that moment. Most of the bullying comes from the fear of misunderstanding their own feelings on the unexplained emotions that never were brought to their attention. So maybe the person that is actually doing the bullying is the one that is insecure with the situation that is confronting him or her at that time. Therefore the bullying actually keeps the unexplained fear away from the protective circle of the individual that is acting upon his or her insecurities. “Again, let’s turn those question marks to periods!” Let’s bring the questions out to the open and not be afraid to confront our own fears, before we push them onto others. Answers to the questions above can prevent ignorance, confusion, self esteem issues, and all around hatred. Let me share one of many examples that I ran across in my life as a child that might help explain the emotions and feelings of the bullied.
I’m going to go back to where it all started as a young chubby cheek 5 year old heading off to school, with my Scooby Doo aluminum lunch box, ready to conquer the world. This is an important note. (Laugh) It was a perfect fall day in September of 1973 in Wichita, Kansas at Stearmann Grade School. I have a brother that is 5 years older than me, which I swear to you, his nick name was “Baby Huey”, and I couldn’t even make this up. Think of the characters in the movie “Twins”, that’s my brother and I to a tee. Baby Huey would take the throw pillows in our living room and box the heck out of me, and at the time I thought he was just picking on me like every other older brother would do. Not so, I think he was training me for the big day as I would try to fight back with no success. Okay back to this awesome story! Mom drops us off for my very first day of school as Hue drags me to the kindergarten section of the playground, and then leaves me there alone, because I guess he wanted to go play with his friends before school started. So now I’m standing there all alone on the playground, as the kids start to arrive for school, and then I started to feel the “glare” for the first time in my life. It was as if I was some kind of alien visiting from a “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”. As the kids arrived, the eyes arrived, and they just started to get closer and closer to intruding on my personal space. A “circle” of kids started to form around my little body and then the taunting started; “Hey shrimp! You’re small! What’s wrong with you? “Then I started to feel physical shoves across my shoulders and back, which was causing me to lose my balance within this “circle” that was tightening its grip around my little body. The tears started to huddle up in my eyes as I was feeling an unprotected fear that terrified me. A strange feeling of intrusion like no other that I felt before, because for the first time I had to stand on my own, and protect this violated space. But honestly, how do you do something like that at such young age, without ever experiencing such an invasive emotion? I couldn’t figure out how to react right away to the disturbing behaviors that were being forced upon my thoughts. All I could think about was do I run or stand my ground? Then it made me think about the old western movies I use to watch, with each cowboy a hand on the pistol standing steady and ready for the gun fight. All of a sudden, I felt the big thrust from behind me and it reminded me of my big brothers punches with the throw pillows. Without even thinking about it, I turned to that so called “bully” and swung the aluminum Scooby Doo lunch box as hard as I could to his head, and knocked him the heck out! (Laugh) All I heard was a loud gasp of about 10 boys followed by a dead silence. Guess what, that circle opened up and I stepped proudly out of it with my head up, as my brother stood there with a big smile on his face. And a funny thing is those ten boys that surrounded me on my first day of school ended up being my best friends by the end of the week, after taking the time to meet me for who I was. I’m not saying let’s all turn to violence to get the admiration of others, but we got to stand up for ourselves to regain the respect deserved. Then the outside world can take the time to listen to the thoughts of the bullied and “turn those question marks to periods.”
LIVING OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE – REBOOT THE ENVIRONMENT THAT YOU’RE IN
Details posted soon!