Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mom lessons: 1 Teaching Diversity

My blog is mainly crazy stuff that happens and my inner thoughts, that I do not share with my children. I joke about the short bus and that something is F***tarted, it may not be a great thing to do. If it wasn't for the short bus my daughter wouldn't have become the amazingly smart and beautiful girl she is now. She would be still banging her head into the wall and avoiding people, never having had the opportunity to make friends.  Would I ever in my life tell a child or anyone with a disability that..NEVR IN MY LIFE. What I witnessed the past few months and especially yesterday has changed my life. Here are the events of yesterday:

I was driving home at a stoplight waiting to turn onto the main road. My car is fairly derelict and doesn't have A/C in the front of the car, I am beyond glad it didn't. I witnessed the most disgusting thing I have seen in a long time. A group of girls roughly 12 or 13 were harassing a mid/older teen boy who obviously had some sort of autism or mental retardation- not sure of the politically correct term, sorry folks. This infuriated me beyond belief. I stopped in the middle of the road and told the girls to leave him alone, I then was called numerous names and profanities and the girls then took it upon themselves to change their plans and walk the same direction as the boy across the street yelling names and laughing at him. I asked the boy if he wanted a ride and he declined. I, not knowing if they would escalate to physical violence decided to drive along the road and telling him not to worry about them. The boy said "Don't worry, people do it all the time, I'm used to it." After swallowing the huge lump in my throat I told him they shouldn't. I followed along until the girls got bored and walked the other way. This makes me physically sick, shaking sick.

I teach my children to stand up for people being bullied. My oldest did this past year at middle school, followed this and wound up getting bullied also because of a few racist kids in her school, among other things that happened. I ultimatley decided to pull her out when the counselor informed me that the moral code of the world has lowered because of television and the internet.  Is this is why my child who is white with black friends gets bullied or sexually harassed- verbally and physically? Really? This is a true eye opener. So that being said I am compiling a few lessons to teach your children, I'm not going to talk about sleeping in their own bed or how to use the toilet, this is real.

1) Teach your child diversity.

I had the most fortunate childhood. My mom is handicapped. I learned how different people can be but still be people. It didn't matter if they didn't have arms or legs, they made it work and didn't feel sorry for themselves. I saw people have a road block everyday and just figure it out, on their own. This is a true blessing and still to this day I truly appreciate my childhood for this lesson.

I may be hated for this but every child needs to know all walks of life. That there are disabilities, Tommy may have two dads, and the kid who's mom who covers her entire body for her religion is not a terrorist or weird. If YOU teach them they will know the facts, not the biased crap they hear from school. Even if you do not agree with someone's religious beliefs or sexual orientation, your child needs to know the facts- and make their own opinions.  I am not saying load their brains with information and diagrams, just that this is part of our world, and its ok to be a friend regardless. Please make a whole hearted attempt to bring the bible out, I dare you. Even Jesus was friends with Mary Magdeline and she was a hooker. Did Jesus take up her services, no. Was he her friend, yes.

Here is the deal, the world will be completely different in a matter of years, you may not like it but that's how its gonna work.You are raising a future adult, you can't choose their friends, who they walk past in DisneyLand or the person who bags their groceries. And considering being gay, Muslim, or disabled isn't contagious, you don't have to be scared they will catch it. Open your eyes and see people for who they are, not your differences or fear of the unknown. You do not have to attend a Pride Parade, but for real don't be on the protesting end with your child in hand- you just taught hate, not because the person killed your dog or stole your bike, you know real reasons to dislike someone.

You may not like your cousin Nicole's boyfriend but do you stand outside the restaurant with your kids, signs in hand boycotting their relationship? Probably not. Teach your kids people are different but that doesn't mean we need to vomit our opinions and throw signs up in their face, if you can't handle putting your differences aside for friendship- go live in a bubble. There is diversity EVERYWHERE, you can use it to your advantage to teach your kids how to love and be a good person or you can send them into the arms of the Westboro Baptist Church full of hatred and anti-American beliefs.

Your child could meet the most amazing friend or spouse. They could treat them with the most respect, have the longest conversations about beliefs/goals/dreams, laugh hysterically over nothing. This person could truly be someone who will balance their personality and make your child feel like they can take on the world because they know the person next to them will support them. Is it fair to your child that they can't love someone or be their friend because they are a different religion, a different skin color, or because they are the same sex? Think about it, your child could have missed the opportunity to know this person because you didn't take the time to set aside your hatred and just let them know about diversity and true friendship.

I truly admire Ellen DeGeneres, she takes a stand with humor and compassion. She doesn't judge people because they are straight or different. She highlights it and embraces it with  true grace and kindness.  Her mission is to teach, I truly would love to see her make some sort of program where anti-bullying, diversity awareness and character training is taught to the students, so they may see it and take a stand. Teachers and school officials are not enough, they can't see everything or change people, but if a kid sees their friend take a stand they may follow.  If enough parents teach their children how ugly hatred and ignorance are maybe the world can change.

And FYI, this does work. My kid won the Portait of Character award at his school, for making sure a kid in his class with autism would play with kids on the playground or help him with his work. Like I said earlier my oldest has stood up for her friends because of other racist kids. My youngest daughter has stood up for her friend because some girls were saying things about her friend having two moms and other physical issues, a difficult thing for her because she  doesn't feel the need to learn  many social skills. Seeing how my kids react to different situations make me an unbelievably proud parent. #4 is a HUGE work in progress, I'm hoping he comes around. Also, if you are easily offended and dislike cursing don't read my other posts, I'm sure this post alone with fill my inbox with hate...

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