October is National Bullying Awareness Month. Bullies suck. That, many of us agree upon. But bullies are not only in school. Sometimes bullies are the parents. Now that school has for my kiddos, we have gotten them involved in some extra-curricular activities. We have chosen cross country, because my kindergartners are always full of energy and are happier when outside mucking about in the dirt. Seems like cross country was a natural fit for us.
Other people, however, I am not so sure. While at my sons cross country meet, I was standing and watching the kids play tag to burn off some nervous energy before the races began. I overheard a set of parents start talking about a child at another school at the meet. This child, who was larger than some of her fellow racers, was usually one of the last people to cross the finish line. One of the moms actually said “I don’t know why she even bothers.”
Well that bothered me. The girl didn’t attend our school either, but I have been that girl. I have been and still continue to be out of shape. My heart went out to her in a sisterhood kind of way. And also in a sisterhood kind of way, I was proud of her determination to make it through the entire race. Rather than cause a scene that would make my kids uncomfortable, or even call attention to the girl, who didn’t know at the time what was going on, I made this a teaching moment for my boys.
We cheered her on, we cheered everyone from all the teams on. This little girl did not come in last. That was honor was saved for a little girl who tripped and was stepped on during the initial start off. (That story will come later) I reminded my kids, everyone who finishes the race deserves to be applauded. Because they started, they tried their best and they finished. Watching the face of those kindergartners cross the finish line after they have run for 1/2 mile is inspiring. Life makes it way to easy to quit. These kids, especially that girl, are not quitters. They are doing something I find very hard to do, and I think they deserve ALL kinds of honors.
And, to the parents who were being catty, ugly and mean towards a child. Sportsmanship isn’t just for the kids. Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground. They both start at home, with your good example. Bullies suck. You don’t have to.