Monday, June 25, 2012

From Bully to Good Neighbor

Tonight I am cleaning a closet that has been storing - among other things - more than a decade's worth of school papers for both of our sons. Parents know school papers. Each has unique importance and meaning, yet each is a building block of a colossal mess when mom and/or dad have neglected the act of treasure triage.

The challenges of Stross' school years made triage difficult in the midst of those moments. I wanted to hold onto memories of each educational victory. All large, none small. So I delayed decision making about Stross' school papers until after he graduated. That was three years ago; I may be delaying it again this week.

This evening Skye's stash has been serving as my warmup. I am determined to look at each precious piece of Skye's educational milestones and force myself into a decision. Some decisions have been easier than others. For instance, the stories he wrote - one after another. During preschool, kindergarten and first grade, he would sometimes write and illustrate multiple masterpieces a day. I am saving them all - for now.

I am also saving notes from teachers that provide early insight into the person I recognize in a more mature form today. So far this is one of my favorites. I have titled it "From Bully to Good Neighbor."

I hold no memory of the incident Skye's kindergarten teacher reported on the note. Apparently another boy in the class was organizing a bully group; I am not clear if Skye had been chosen to be part of this select entourage. I only know that he presented his classmate with an alternative after Mrs. Shirk said they could only form "good" groups. Skye's solution: the Good Neighbor Group.

I don't know if that is what happened on that promising Spring day in 2001, but I continue to hold such a hope for my son more than a decade later. When groups are forming and invitations are offered him, I hope he self-identifies as a good neighbor and then fulfills his self-appointed role. I hold the same hope for the boy who wanted to classify classmates as bullies that day, wherever he might now be living. The world needs to be filled with good neighbors. Every classroom, every home.

I am thankful for those who help teach these lessons in kindergarten. Don't be a bully. Be a good neighbor. Sounds pretty simple to me.

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