Life has a way of colliding with you. Whether you like it or not you may be bumped, bashed and bowled over by life and you may end up with bruised and broken parts. I sometimes wish that I could bubble wrap my kids. I would like to protect them from the bashing that may happen to them when they experience rejection, failure or hurt.
I attended Gordon Higgins Elementary School in Calgary. Higgins’ was a small dusty carpeted school with add-on Portables to make it feel bigger. In grade five I was tormented by a girl named Carrie who made fun of me every day, calling me “fat.” I wasn’t fat, but being made fun of was harsh and painful. It bothered me and I tried to avoid her. After a few weeks of trying to act invisible I realized that avoiding would not help my situation. Then I thought of using my humor to push back a little. The next time she made fun of me I told her I was not fat, I was just big boned. Making a joke of it seemed to stop her in her tracks because I was not afraid of her anymore.
In my own way I stood up to her. I did not suffer silently under the assaults, but I also did not become angry at the world. I considered what I could do and I chose an option that fit me and seemed to fit the situation. For sure, this was not the last time I was made fun of. I had another six years of riding on the Yellow School bus. In England I think they call them Yellow Submarines, full of friends and fun, living a life of ease. In Canada, we don’t have submarines because it is too damned cold. Friends and fun? For me surviving the school bus survival meant dive in the trench and keep your head down!
At supper each day my wife and I talk with our kids about their day. When I hear from my children what other children say to them, I want to bubble wrap them. But I know that I cannot. Protecting myself or my children from hurt is impossible and it is also a bad idea. Sometimes hurt can be the challenge we need that will push us to grow. Everyone has a Carrie who pushes them to stand up and use words, a little humor, some teamwork, or talking to an adult who can help. Experiences like this teach us about ourselves and we draw strength from other areas of our lives. Interestingly, at Gordon Higgins, I got my first crack at writing for the school newspaper. I was not a very good writer then, but at least I got published!
We are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit. We often quit far before we’re done. Pushing ourselves a little at a time, stretching our comfort zone is the goal.
Keep it real!