When Hated-Filled Bullying Replaces Hope and Change   by
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Prompted By Bullying

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This is not the world I had hoped my grandchildren would inherit. Before Trump’s campaign and election, I truly thought our country was on track to be more loving, accepting, inclusive, and kind. Instead, during Bullying Prevention Month back in October of 2016, people were talking about a child with special needs in Texas being set on fire by classmates, who had taunted him in the past. While it is not clear if ten-year-old Kayden Culp, a disabled child who has a hearing impairment and speaks with a lisp, was deliberately or accidentally set on fire, the boy had been the target of bullying.

I want to put my grandkids in a bubble to keep them from seeing all of the hatred and bullying out there since Trump descended that golden escalator.

That same month, Trump imitated Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia-induced collapse and then invited women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment to the October 10 debate, during which he stalked Hillary, looming menacingly behind her as she spoke. The Access Hollywood tape in which Trump joked about his attempt to seduce a married woman and bragged he could assault women due to his star status had surfaced. Like a schoolyard bully, Trump decided to hit back, humiliate, and intimidate his opponent.

Fast forward to October 2019 and now this man who makes vulgar remarks, bullies his opponents, and feels entitled to sexually assault women is president. Trump’s cruelties, lies, and bullying are too numerous to mention. Taking their cue from him, supporters like Laura Ingraham have bullied Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg and, more recently, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the decorated army veteran who testified at the impeachment inquiry hearing.

I want to put my grandkids in a bubble to keep them from seeing all of the hatred and bullying out there since Trump descended that golden escalator.

  • For my grandchildren with disabilities, I pray they don’t know about the child set on fire or the way Donald Trump mocked a reporter who is disabled.
  • For my grandkids, girls and boys alike, I hope they don’t think they live in a world that accepts “locker room banter” and disrespect for women as normal.
  • For my grandkids who are black, I hope they don’t think that their skin color makes them “less than” in today’s America.

I worked hard in my thirty-year professional career as an early childhood educator to create a caring and respectful community for young children. Let me share what we taught the students at Cherry Preschool, the program I founded and directed:

  • Respect people, places, and things – Every person, regardless of who he or she is, deserves respect. So do the places and things in our lives, particularly our environment. This is not hard for three-year-olds to grasp.
  • You can’t say you can’t play – When you live in a community, and that is what a classroom is, everyone deserves a seat at the table. Keeping another child out of play is simply not fair.
  • Be fair – This extension of being inclusive helps all children to stand up for themselves and others. We taught children to challenge bias and unfairness. Ask any four-year-old what is fair or unfair. She knows.
  • We are all different and yet all the same – Young children are not color blind, but they are incredibly accepting if the adults in their lives don’t teach them differently. So while children recognize they come in all colors, sizes, and abilities, they see the sameness in their humanity.
  • Celebrate diversity – Our students should feel proud of themselves and their heritage and find a place for themselves and others in our diverse world. Being different is just… different. We are all glad there is so much diversity in the world.
  • Welcome and include children with disabilities – This is a part of diversity that is often forgotten. When people of differing abilities are brought together in an environment that teaches acceptance, respect, and the appreciation of individual differences, the lives of all children are enriched.
  • Create a caring community – At Cherry Preschool, our dream was for parents, children, and educators to forge the bonds of a community that supports and cherishes its members. We recognized the power of working together to create a better world.

When we sent our students out into the world of elementary school, we believed we had equipped them to be “playground ambassadors,” spreading the values they had learned and standing up for others. Instead, they are being taught that we live in a cruel world filled with countless examples of hate-filled bullying. That’s not the world I dreamed of over 25 years ago when Cherry Preschool was created. It’s not what I hoped for when President Obama was elected in 2008 and again in 2012. In both elections, his opponents did not reflect my political views, but they were honorable men whom I would have respected had they been elected.

I guess I should have seen this shift in America’s political climate coming. Much like someone who thinks she can ride out the storm during a hurricane, I dismissed Sarah Palin as a joke and thought the birthers were a small and ridiculous group of racists led by a small-minded and ridiculous celebrity. I thought the acceptance of marriage equality, the importance of battling racial and economic injustice, and the recognition of the importance of climate change and gun reform were on the horizon. Instead, the hurricane of bullying and hatred has destroyed my safe haven. I am left worrying if this is a storm I can survive. More importantly, I am left in despair about my grandchildren’s future.

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Wow, Laurie…this is so beautifully and powerfully written it brought tears to my eyes. I wish a version of your Cherry Preschool manifesto could be etched in stone at the Capitol, could become the Children’s Preamble to the Constitution. Maybe you could send it to Melania. Honestly, even though offhand I can’t name anything meaningful she’s accomplished as First Lady, I find myself wanting to give her a chance. Because wouldn’t it be something if she finally opened her eyes, and her mouth, and stood up to her husband for the good of the country? If she turned her legacy into something positive instead of being the butt of jokes, an object of scorn? One can dream; I dream to survive the pervasive cruelty that defines this awful period in our history..

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    This is beautiful and powerful, Laurie; a dream we might hope could come true. Who knew there was so much hatred in these troubled times. I agree with Barbara’s comments and your reply. In fact, I know someone from NYC who says it was common knowledge that Melania was shopping for a divorce attorney just before the election, so no one was more surprised or unhappy than she was on Nov 9, 2016. Trump had to add a lot of money to their pre-nup to keep her around for appearance’s sake. “Be Best”, indeed. I am not sure how we put this ugly genie back in the bottle. So much hatred and so much of it is in the name of religion. Horrid and frightening.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Yes, Betsy, how to put that genie back is the $64,000 question. For both of us, the first thing that we associated with bullying was @realdonaldtrump. No way will I ever write his name following the title of President.

  3. Wonderful altho painful and so heartfelt .
    #VOTEBLUE2020

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