Today is National Spank-out Day, the final day of a full month devoted to Child Abuse Prevention. How many public service announcements have you seen/heard about this? I have not seen or heard any! I have encountered many messages for the protection of animals and the environment, to help orphans in Africa, to support breast cancer research, but none directed to the general public that proclaim the damage that hitting children causes to them and for ALL OF US. There is a very clear picture of all the ramifications that hitting children causes.
I believe in "doing small things with great love" (thank you, Mother Theresa), and that every little bit counts. You know, a pebble thrown in the water creates far-reaching ripples, that kind of philosophy. So I support all the above-noted causes in whatever small (or big) ways I can. But I am amazed at how blind people are to the dire ramifications of hitting children. Where is the public outcry for this?! Where are all the support ribbons on the cars? I'm just not seeing it.
What I do see is a more violent, angry world than the one in which I grew up. I see a world where people feel the need to carry concealed weapons to work. I see a world where families are so disconnected that teenagers are sent to boot camps where they are further abused and sometimes killed. Can anyone really deny that we are perpetuating and endorsing the lesson of "might makes right" when we rule over our children using physical punishment?
I think one of the things that prevents people from seeing the truth in this matter, is that it calls for many of us to admit what being hit has done to us. I've hear many say, "I was hit as a child, and it didn't damage me." Really? Do you remember how you felt being hit? It didn't bother you at all? You weren't physically hurting, afraid, confused, angry? Nothing? If you were hit by your parents, most likely you weren't given an opportunity to convey all your feelings about it to the perpetrator. So where did those feelings go? Did you suppress your feelings, believing the lie that your feelings were insignificant, allowing others to abuse you in the future ? Did you act aggressively to peers or those smaller than you, because you could? Did you keep a stiff upper lip, and know that your day would come, the day when you would be in charge, and you would be the one doing the hitting?
When an act of violence is committed against someone, there has to be an effect. It requires self-examination to determine what that effect is. It requires an honest appraisal of the beliefs we have had since our childhood and of how they impact our behavior and choices today. That is too unnerving for some people. The problem is that we cannot solve problems with the same tactics that caused them in the first place, and that by ignoring this we suffer the consequences reflected in our present day society. When we are so practiced at denying our own pain, it becomes easy to act as if it doesn't affect us when we cause our own children pain. And if we can do that, it is even easier to ignore others' children who are suffering.
It's time to give up the delusions that violence towards others is acceptable if the "others" are young enough. It's time to learn that self-control is better than attempting to control others, and it is best learned through example. It's time to speak up against violence toward children in your corner of the world. Let people know of the alternatives. Show them by your example. Offer your assistance to those at risk for hitting/being hit. Do your small part however you feel led. Spread the word: love, compassion, understanding can do more to heal our broken world than "spanking" ever could.
My kids only started collecting Webkinz about seven months ago, but there were birthdays and quite a few holidays since then. That made gift giving pretty easy for some, and the collection of Webkinz grew by leaps and bounds. This is the most recent picture of the whole gang:
These little critters have lots of adventures, on-line and in real life. They've all enjoyed bouncing on the trampoline with my kids, and in the picture above they were getting ready for their guided tour of our house. The last two days have been all about Webkinz fashion. Two of my children and their friend created many new fashions for their animals, using scrap material, tape and safety pins. A runway was constructed from a game box lid elevated by potholders, and of course there was music to accompany the models. My husband and I got to be the judges. We had a slip of paper on which we had to write our score for each constestant and then hold it, as if on a TV show. Their creativity was inspiring! They crafted ties, hats, belts, sashes, "tail veils", vests, capes, and more! Here are two of the contestants:
At first I couldn't see the appeal of Webkinz, but thanks to my kids, I now see that Webkinz are much more than just another line of cute stuffed animals. To my kids, these toys are some of the many raw materials they use in their never-ending, often surprising, creative approach to enjoying life (and coincidentally learning too!)
Angelica's first time on Splash Mountain. She also conquered Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain all in one day, which is a pretty big deal for someone who previously feared the "kiddie coasters". ( There is much to be said for allowing our children to try things in their own time and their own way, but that could be a whole 'nother post!)
Joseph in his Goofy hat, waiting to see Monsters, Inc. show. We didn't end up seeing the show because Joseph changed his mind. He much preferred to go on rides with his friend. He had a blast blasting aliens on the Buzz Lightyear ride. It's like being inside a video game, where you ride a spaceship through and use your laser-gun to shoot at all the targets. I really liked it too, until my trigger thumb got tired. ;PAngelica and her friend with their faces painted, Genie and a butterfly.
While nature certainly isn't the main attraction at Disney, we were happy to see quite a few birds that enjoy all the commotion there. This little guy and his friends flew into the bushes right behind where I was sitting for a few moments. They were making all kinds of noise and jumping around like the groups of children throughout the park who couldn't wait to get to the next attraction. Then there were the great white egrets who kept eyeing our lunch as we watched the passengers on Splash Mountain come down the chute. We also got to see a group of sweet baby ducklings with their momma. Those sightings were just the dose of "reality" I needed to enjoy the day as much as I did.
Praise the parent or child at the first opportunity. Think of something positive to say and say it! It helps to hear others are supportive of you.
Identify with the parent. You can let them know you’ve been there by saying, “My kids used to do the same thing when they were that age. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Blame the environment. “This is such a bright and colorful place and filled with things for children to want to touch. I swear the supermarkets have really done a great job at creating a place where children just want to run around.”
Offer assistance. “You seem to really have your hands full. Can I help you?” Or, “Can I find someone to come and help you with something?”
Empathize with the child. “You don’t feel like sitting in that stroller anymore, do you? Well just a little longer and Mommy/Daddy will be all done and you can get out.”
If you are concerned about the physical safety of the child, then offer assistance. For example, if a child is left unattended, stand by the child until the parent returns.
Any assistance you can offer a stressed parent will help them take a few seconds to take a deep breath and calm down.
2. Seeing Broadway shows makes me wanna dance!
3. Splitting a few appetizers between friends is the sensible thing to do, but we usually over-order anyway!
4. Maggy is someone I'd like to get to know better.
5. The smell of hyacinths reminds me so much of springtime!
6. I learned to not worry as much, and that made it all better.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my step-dad's 70th birthday surprise party. Tomorrow my plans include enjoying a visit with all the family that will be in town, and Sunday, I want to savor every last minute with our family before I shuttle them to the airport!