Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

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Personal Culture Wars

October 8, 2014

Lil’ man just started kindergarten. He spent almost three years going to a Montessori preschool. He loved it. We loved it. The school and staff were great. He made friends. We made friends with parents. Most days he loved going to school. We recently moved and were unable to find a Montessori school around us. The closest one was more than forty-five minutes away. The local public school has a good rating. Parents seem to love it. So with great hesitation and reluctance we chose to enroll him in the public kindergarten. And his teacher is great. He still seems to enjoy school. He definitely seems to be learning a lot. The teacher is pretty good about keeping parents informed about what is going on at school. But something has changed. Something I don’t know how to deal with. Something that probably has more to do with where we have moved than the public school environment. Kids are making comments that lil’ man takes to heart and now we are faced with fighting against a tidal wave of opinions we are not okay with.

When we paint our nails lil’ man likes to get his painted. Almost always orange, his favorite color. He had his nails painted at school and another kid told him only girls paint their nails. We’ve faced this before. In our old state. And he responded “my uncle paints his nails, and he’s not a girl”. Which is true, and was enough. This time his teacher told us his response was “I’m not a girl, I’m a grown-ass man” (which is something we tell him regularly). But now he won’t paint his nails because he doesn’t want the kids to think he’s a girl.

On the walk to school one day he saw a little girl riding a blue bike. He asked me why the girl was riding a boy colored bike. I was floored. We have always taught there are no such things as boy colors and girl colors. We talked about it again. Where is he learning this?

This morning I pulled out a shirt he hasn’t worn for several weeks. A shirt he had picked out and loved over the summer. He didn’t want to wear it. When I asked him why he answered “what if the kids don’t want to be my friend anymore?” We talked with him and ended saying “If someone doesn’t want to be your friend because of the shirt you are wearing then you don’t want to be friends with them”.

It’s frustrating. It’s heart-breaking. He is such a sensitive soul. He takes everything personally. He is legitimately hurt by things that most people shrug off. How can we help him stay true to himself amidst such things? How do I teach him to let these things roll off his shoulders without making him callous and causing him to lose such a vital part of who he is? How do I help ensure he doesn’t turn into one of those kids causing hurt to another? I feel so inadequate, so limited, so unable to help him be himself in a world that is determined to make him think a certain way and act a certain way. I don’t want to see his spirit damaged by others and at the same time I can’t bear the thought of seeing his spirit damaged by compromising who he is to fit in with the world.