Please stop giving my kids conflicting signals. First you say diversity is wonderful! and blow little rainbows all over our life, then you frown and say we’re weird. Which is it?
My daughter had a birthday coming up, and because she’s a cute girly girl, we thought it would be fun to dye her hair pink. She’s had strands of color before and loves it, but never the whole thing. It’s a child-safe dye that doesn’t require bleach (so it doesn’t destroy her hair) and it washes out in about 2-3 weeks. So, pink. Because she loves it.
Apparently most everyone else doesn’t love it. Especially judgy, 50s-something women. Most men seem oblivious, but the women – they ALL notice it. Some smile, some frown, and some comment.
Pfft. Whatever. It’s only hair. And to be honest, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. It’s her hair, her choice. If they weren’t judging her hair, they would be judging her overly dramatic behavior or her boisterous voice. Can’t win with some folks, so why bother?
Still, the fluctuating message bothers me.
Different is good! Ok, that’s too different, you’re weird.
Be yourself! Until we don’t like that self very much and tease you mercilessly.
Our differences make us stronger! Until your differences make you stupid and ignorant because you disagree with me.
Diversity is key! Only if you look and act like me, otherwise I want nothing to do with you.
I won’t be naive enough to say we don’t teach our children to judge people. After all, we do that simply by living: the choices we make, the places we go or don’t go, and the things they hear us say. We try to teach our children to judge people based on how they behave. How they treat others. Which leads to some interesting conversations at times.
“Daddy, why were those kids being mean to me?” The Engineer, after going to a scout meeting where half the troop decided to ban him from the playground and bar him from crossing a bridge area. His dad discussed how people are thoughtless sometimes, or think they’re playing a game. The Engineer thought for a bit. “I still think they were being mean, like our neighbor when he sprayed me in the face with a water gun.”
(note: this particular neighbor has been banned from playing with our kids unless a parent is present after he tried to de-pant the Engineer as a prank.)
So why do we care so much if people are different than us? If they look different, act different, talk differently? And more importantly, why do we try to hurt them for that?
There’s a word for that kind of behavior – it’s called bullying. People talk a lot about bullying in our nation’s schools, but they fail to realize that bullying is a problem everywhere. Kids learn it from adults. And they learn it early.
Over Easter there was a local post from a mom talking about how she experienced bullying from other moms she knows from her kid’s school – an elementary school. While getting coffee at a local gas station, she encountered a small group of these moms. They loudly discussed how her tattoos make her a bad mother and were completely rude and disrespectful right to her face. Instead of confronting them (I would have!) she went home and wrote a post pleading for understanding – for recognizing that different isn’t bad.
I would much rather hang with her than those other moms.
If we want to fix bullying in schools, then we have to start with bullying in our homes. Our workplaces. Our lives. Because that’s where the real problem is. Let’s be accepting of differences. Let’s celebrate diversity. Let’s get a tattoo or dye our hair pink it that’s what makes us feel happy and ourselves.
If you see my little girl in her pink hair, smile! She’s so cute with it – like a walking anime figure. Help her feel strong about herself and her self-image. (just don’t ask me if it’s her natural color, as I heard today. Because yes, that DOES make you ignorant.)
I feel a bit silly with it, but I’m wearing color too. I dyed a shock of my hair purple in honor of Migraine Awareness month (June.) I love it! It’s a little blast of personality and fun. It makes me feel like I’m not just “mom.” I’m me!
At the end of the day, all that really mattered to me is what the Princess told me at bedtime: “Mommy, I LOVE my pink hair!” Melts my heart.
This post is part of an SEA Homeschooling Blog Hop: check out the other awesome posts here.