It’s another one of those days – yet another school shooting happened yesterday – this time in Florida. I am left with so many swirling thoughts and emotions as I am sure many of you are as well. I am aware that this platform may not be the perfect place for these thoughts but it is my space and I am going to indulge. So forgive my rant… here goes…
What the hell is going on in our country? I am taking the issue of guns out of this rant for now because all I can do as one person is educate myself and make the right choices when I get into the voting booth. I am sick over the idea that these assault weapons are allowed in our country and our gun ownership rights have been so grossly misinterpreted by the powers that be. I am scared every time I take a flight, go to the movies, see a show, walk through the mall, go to a concert, take in a big game, and drop my kids off at school. Not scared enough to change my plans but scared enough to buy tickets on the end of a row or take a seat near an exit… but taking the gun topic out of the conversation for a moment, I want to express something else.
The pressure cooker that we have created for ourselves to live in is outrageous. Pressure on ALL of us. Kids, teens, young adults, parents, seniors, teachers, employees, employers, everyone. Pressure to get perfect grades, be a great athlete, get into a good college, get a scholarship, be popular, find the perfect job, move out before you’re ready, be pretty, be handsome, have the perfect body, make great money, buy a big house, have a cool car, go on awesome vacations, raise perfect kids, be the perfect spouse, save enough for retirement, volunteer, balance it all, be logical and rational yet still sensitive, get more, have more, earn more, be more. When is it enough for our kids? When is it enough for us?
When are we working at relaxing, accepting, embracing our imperfections, including others, talking to each other about real stuff, expressing our fears, showing true kindness, appreciating beauty everywhere?
What are our kids supposed to do when they aren’t feeling good enough? Keep working? Try harder? What if it’s still not enough? What if noone is listening? What if someone throws some medication at them and tells them to move on? What if they are sad lonely or angry and have noone to talk to? What if they do talk to someone and they are ignored?
I have two teenage sons. I get it. Life is CRAZY. Two working parents and schedules packed full. I try to be a cool mom but I also own the fact that I am going to force my kids to talk to me about awkward stuff… all. of. the. time. Rides to school are littered with me demanding they put their phones down and talk to me. Do they hate it – yup. Well…at least that’s what they say now. “MOM – you’re so annoying!” To that I answer “Yes, yes I am. And I’m not letting you touch your phone until you tell me who you ate lunch with, talked to in between classes and one funny thing that happened at school yesterday.” Once they start talking it’s always fine and I know they really don’t mind. That open line of communication is important even if you have to force the door open with a crowbar!
Recently I had roughly 80 kids at the studio and about 20 minutes to talk so we talked. I love this part of my job the most. I asked them who felt bullied at school at some period of time. They all raised their hands. All of them. So what does that mean? It happens – bullying has always happened and it will continue to happen. It has gotten worse and the social media platform has exponentially multiplied its effects but it has always happened. It’s important for them to know that it happens to everyone at some point. The thing is, most kids won’t admit to being bullied because they would be admitting unpopularity. I asked them who felt like their parents didn’t “get” them. They all raised their hands. Of course – they are ages 12-18. That’s supposed to be how it is. When I asked them how many of them actually allowed their parents into their lives a little so they COULD get them… not a lot of hands went up. We had a good talk about opening up, trust, respect, time, values, love – good stuff. And I know they didn’t go home and tell their parents what we talked about but I know a few of them who didn’t pull out their phone in the car that night and talked to their parents instead. That’s enough for me.
The pressure cooker of life is only manageable if we all have a safe place to fall. Someone to let the pressure out with. Friends, siblings, parents, kids, teammates, someone to let the pressure off with. Be that safe place for your kids. Be that safe place for some of their friends if they need it!
We have all created an almost impossible world to live in. We have to fix it. We have to change what we see as valuable. We have to give value to standing up for others, getting help for others, resting, creating, expressing, morality, talking, waiting, forgiving, loving, and understanding. We have to give value to all types of people, not just the “perfectly” pretty, athletic, talented, gifted, rich, untouchable people. How do we do that? Our entire society needs to change. We have spun out of control.
My teachers at In Sync are talented, creative, expressive people as as such, are upset by events like these shootings. Creative people can’t turn off tragic events and stuff them down. They have to express, act, release…
Here is what I told them yesterday – We cannot change what happened BUT we can effect the 1,300 children we see every week. We can give them a soft place to fall, a place to express themselves, a place to feel welcome and loved, an avenue to connect with real people, a path to follow for themselves so that they can release the pressure of their worlds. When we do this year after year, we can only hope that the ripple effect will help the community. When we see a child in crisis, we act. When we see a child hurting we talk to them. What we are doing inside our walls is so much more than dance and music lessons. We are creating space for these children to breathe. We all need space to breathe. That is all that is in our control right now. I am driven more and more to create this space for our students in hopes that no child that ever walks through our doors feels like they have nowhere to turn. Ever.
Hoping and praying we can find a way to fix what is going wrong in our world and in the meantime I will make sure I do my part. What will you do?