Jody Vance

Back To School

IMG_3956In #mybackyard we talk about kids and parenting..a LOT.

We chat about how it’s fun being a parent, how it’s stressful, and often how overwhelming it can be. As we do our level best to assist the littles as they navigate through the ever evolving lessons of life – we must engage.

Back to school can be so much fun, such a relief with a return to routine — but for many, it can be the hardest and most gut-wrenching of times.  For those who don’t know, I have an only child — conceived via IVF (a story for another time!) While I am certainly no expert on kids, I do enjoy being the hub in our little neighbourhood.

When I look back, our first foray into the world of school dynamics was daunting.  (I think I returned to B’s Montessori school twice the first day I dropped him there for the 2 hour “morning class” — he was just 2 1/2.)  In the 6 years since that “first ever day of school” I’ve learned to trust he’s ready and that every time I “let go” a little he comes back with a broader view of the world. A better view. Every. Single. Time.

Now, you might be reading this thinking, “ya, well, you are one of the lucky ones, try having a kid who’s shy/awkward socially or on the spectrum.”  No doubt, you are right, this is simply my experience, I can only imagine what it might be like if my boy didn’t love his school, his friends, being social….but I know that me and my boy can make a difference!

As my B heads into grade 4 we reflect back on those first days and how nervous we both were, we think of all of the kids we’ve met who live their lives on the spectrum, who struggle with adjusting to the public school/playground scene.

Preparing for the school year sees us talk a lot  about the standard stuff: “listen to the teacher, focus, learn, BE SAFE, be kind…” However, an important part of our prep includes how to keep a keen eye out for those who need a bit of help adjusting. We imagine how “they must feel” when walking the halls without friends high-fiving and excitedly telling stories of summer escapades — perhaps a little scared while eating their lunch alone.

This summer I picked up B from day camp and one of the leaders took me aside to tell me how “proud I should be” — B stood up to his group of buddies, his squad, when they were teasing this little girl to the point of tears — how he stood up and said “stop, that’s mean, leave her alone” it was one of my proudest mommy moments to date. Later we discussed what happened and he simply stated: this little girl was being bullied.  I asked why her… he explained that “she has a HUGE imagination and no friends, except me, I’m her only friend… she’s very different mom and she’s a target”.  He told me how other kids seem to be entertained by making fun of her for differences.

Unprompted, in the face of peer pressure, my boy did the right thing.  I honestly believe that he was, and remains, proud. He knew, in the moment, that doing what was right and honourable — even at the risk of alienating his peers — was important. I asked why he thought he should do it, step in, and his reply brought me to tears: “because I imagined what she felt like….and I thought how awful it would …be when I put myself in her place.”

In the days that followed B experienced the gratitude earned after doing a good deed.  That littler girl’s parents — smart, prepared, organized and loving people — showed my son how stepping up in her defense truly helped their sweet girl. It served as a huge learning moment for B, he realizes now how is actions echo far beyond our little world.

We can all help “those” parents, and the teachers for that matter, by preparing our kids with tools on how they can stop the meanness, not just on Pink Shirt Day, but every day.

We all know kids can be cruel..let’s get kids on a mission to support innocents being targeted. Stand up for those being teased, bullied, or worse.  Do something.  Tell someone. Make a difference. Everyday.

A little extra attention given to this social lesson can help our confident kids make a world of difference in the day-to-day lives of those who struggle socially or are on the spectrum.  In these days where class composition is a hot topic we need our kids to lean in and be someone’s hero……….it starts with us.

#bethevillage #nolunchalone #schoolsupport #helpothers

please post comments/questions … we will read and reply!

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6 Comments

  • Reply Brenda September 7, 2016 at 4:44 am

    You have raised a great kid! Being kind and supporting others will be a virtue that will serve B very well in the future. Kudos to the village!

  • Reply Jody Vance September 7, 2016 at 5:00 am

    Thank you, that means a lot…. Brenda, you have the lovely distinction of being our FIRST EVER comment. We very much appreciate you taking the time to read. We will be growing and sharing as the days go by!

  • Reply Neil Patel September 7, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Congratulations Jody and great post.

  • Reply Jody Vance September 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Cheers Neil!

  • Reply Kiersten September 21, 2016 at 8:21 am

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    • Reply Jody Vance September 21, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Thank you for that. Cheers.

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