Mothers, we have a job to do!
As our children go back to school this week, you are no doubt anxious and worried about the safety of your child as I am. As I have been this week as one child went to school. And I have thought long and hard about what to say to my younger children. I am going back to basics that my parents taught me, reinforced by literature – the value of kindness and resilience. And let’s have those conversations before they get to school so they know how to treat their friends, their classmates, their teachers and other staff.
Let’s remind them that we are all of the human race and that our actions define who we are. If we are kind to others, we will become kind people. The world needs more kind (but not naïve) people. As the 75 year old Harvard study highlighted, relationships are the most important factor for a long and happy life.
Let’s remind them to be aware of their surroundings and to alert an adult s fast as possible if they are concerned. I can hear my daughter saying “But what does that mean?” Perhaps your school has already issued a security procedure, which we must communicate to them. It also means being aware of unfamiliar objects and activities. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? Let’s explain it to them again just to let them know that pranks on this subject are just not appropriate and will be dealt with sternly by you and very likely school authorities.
Let’s remind them that they need to focus on little things too. Smile and say good morning as you walk in, you don’t have to know the name, it’s ok to say good morning or just smile. Make eye contact, they are people. Holding doors open, lending a hand, waiting for your turn, these are all good things. And let’s not forget, please, thank you and excuse me.
Hold them close and let them know that we all need to get together to rebuild our country, our futures. We are worried too, the same way we felt 10-12 years ago and the way our parents felt when we were in school. They developed different coping mechanisms, travelling in separate buses, identified emergency contacts, ensuring that we knew where each one was all the time and knowing the expected time of arrival. We need our kids to be resilient. We love them but we need to strengthen them too.
My children learned to care for my mother who had was visually impaired in her later years and they learned to clear a path for her, to assist her to the car and carry her bags prior to her death. I don’t think I could have taught them a better lesson than that as it made them more gentle and caring. If we all learn to watch out for someone, we will learn to care, not just for our selves and our kin but also for others who need a hand. All this starts at home. With mums. With us. So let’s do our job. It means a lot.
P.S.I am not telling you to send your kid to school, I just want you to have the conversation before you decide to send them.