Stop the Hate

I LOVE to read. Biography, mystery, fantasy, history, memoir, novel, self-help, you name it. A few winters ago a friend recommend a fantasy trilogy to me, and I spent the whole of Christmas break completely consumed by the books. I couldn’t for the life of me put them down for days, and I literally would make dinner with my nose between the pages. It was agonizing to have to put them down for any reason. They were just that good! Finally, when I turned the last page and could return to real life, I found my youngest, then 18 months old, walking around the house all the time like this:

He was so engrossed with his cute face buried in that magazine that he was running into walls, and he kept proclaiming, “dis Mommy, dis Mommy!”

Imitation is supposedly the greatest form of flattery, and I (rather proudly) got a kick out of my son pretending to be me with a nose stuck in a book. But looking back, it was also a bit startling how, even at a mere 18 months old, he was so quick to pick up on my behavior and mimic my actions.

Now let me tell you about a few situations my family has heard of and experienced the past month.

I recently saw a note on social media that was slipped into a middle schooler’s backpack last week in my town a couple days after we received word that masks would be mandated in our school district. It said, “I hope you and your anti-mask mom die of covid.” I have been alarmed and frankly terrified at the divisiveness this topic has created among otherwise kind, caring, compassionate individuals. My son overheard a classmate telling another boy that he thought anyone who didn’t like masks was just stupid and wouldn’t be their friend any more. At back-to-school night I witnessed a parent advising their child to back away from a classmate who wasn’t wearing a mask and not get close to them again. And I know this sad commentary is coming from those on both sides of the issue. Yesterday I read a story of a parent getting in an altercation with a teacher when his child was required to wear a mask. I’ve heard concerned parents saying they fear their child will be made fun of for wearing one when given an option. So much hatred.

Parents what are we doing to our kids??? Is this really what our society is becoming?? And are we ok with that?

It breaks my heart that our most vulnerable, our most innocent are being drug into this ugly fight. That they are being used as pawns in a political game is so sad. We love to talk about the dangers of bullying, how it’s intolerable and repugnant. No one wants their kid to be the bully. But if we were to look at our own actions over the past weeks and months, are we not doing the very thing that we persistently preach to our children about?

Our kids are watching. They’re picking up on our anger, our frustration, and our dialogue between other adults. And, sadly, just like my little boy running into walls with his nose stuck in a book, our kids are following our lead.

When our school started out the school year with masks as optional, we sat down with our boys and talked about how some kids and teachers will be wearing masks, some will not. No matter what others choose, we completely respect their choice and will treat them with nothing but compassion. While I know I haven’t always been the perfect example, I hope that my actions as a mother have shown them that respect and kindness are essential during these divisive times. Anything short of that is unacceptable. I hope I’ve shown them that no matter what people choose or believe, their voice matters and they are deserving of love.

Please, parents! Look at what we are doing to our children. They are watching. They are imitating. How can we ever expect to teach our little ones to be kind, respectful, understanding, and patient when we are bullying and tearing others down? No matter where you are on the mask/vaccine/covid/whatever debate, can we show a little more compassion to the other side? I honestly think that most of us are just trying to do our best with what knowledge and experience we have. Our children have enough to navigate and figure out in this crazy world without us adding the burden of hate on our children.

Let’s please just be kind.

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