When I was little, bullying in schools was a lot more common than it is now. Boys fought on school grounds, kids got shoved in lockers, girls teased each other into eating disorders… And the way to deal with it was to stand up for yourself. You could tell a teacher, but a lot of times that would only make it worse.
Well, these days, schools take bullying a whole lot more seriously, and my school aged son had no idea what a “swirlie” was. (He read about it in a book.) They have friendship benches on the playground so that if someone doesn’t have anyone to play with, they can go sit there and another kid will come include them in their games. All of the teachers and faculty at his school use the same language when they talk to their classes: all kids are called “friends,” and they hammer it into them every single day: in this school, we are all friends, and we treat each other well. Is it perfect? No, but it’s a whole lot better!
What a difference a generation makes! And why did that happen? Because the kids from my generation who grew up to become educators decided that things needed to be different. So things changed.
When I watch the news and get depressed over all the awful things in the world that I cannot control, I remember that I am currently raising the next generation. And these kids who are growing up with friendship benches and new methods to deal with bullying will one day be in charge. We still have big problems to fix, but with every generation comes new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. My fingerprints are already on the future.
I might not be able to influence world politics, but I can influence the little boy growing up in my home. They might be small still, but they are fierce. And one day, we’ll be calling this little guy “sir.” I’m looking forward to it.