There are moments when I regret some of the teaching strategies that were used in the seventies in reading. As I look back I remember a lot of emphasis on compare and contrast, finding same and different, and although there is a component of importance I often wonder if it has also played a role in the comparisons people make with each other.
About 30 years ago, a moment in time that taught me a huge lesson about myself, I was walking out of McDonald’s with my 4 year old. In front of us was a mixed race couple with their young daughter. My daughter blurts out, “Mommy look!” and points at their child. Embarrassed, I shushed her, then leaned down and told her to be quiet and hurried her to the car. By the time we got there she was in tears. “Mommy”, she cried. “Why wouldn’t you look at that little girl’s Miss Piggy glass?”
I was shocked at myself. I noticed the different colors of the family members, and worried because my daughter was drawing attention to them. My four year old noticed another little girl like her, who loved Miss Piggy.
Isn’t there too little of seeing the likenesses we share? After all, isn’t that how we choose with whom we spend our time? Or do we choose who we don’t want around because of their differences? There is so much negative energy everywhere! Children see it in facial expressions, and hear it in words. They pick up on sarcasm, and jokes and soon believe it is OK to react that way. They may try it themselves and be sternly corrected, but they don’t get the mixed message. There is always a conflict for kids when they are told one thing but something else is demonstrated when adults think they are not watching. They learn from watching and copying.
In the chapter titled God’s Specially Wrapped Gifts in My Loving Self and Me, I wrote about differences of all kinds and explained that God wraps us all differently so that we can tell each other apart, because unlike Him we don’t recognize us by our Loving Selves. In the story Gram tells the children, “God wants us to look at each other with the same excitement we feel whenever we receive presents. And we need to look for the present inside!” Our souls, true selves, authentic selves, higher selves, our loving selves, whatever you call it, have no skin color, hair color, eye color, height, weight, or anything else to be compared. Inside is love energy, in each one. Sometimes it is hard to find while with others it is right there for all to see and enjoy.
I read on PBS Parents, in a section called Inclusive communities several articles on this topic. One titled “The Power of Words”, wrote about “people first language” when speaking- a boy with red hair, the girl that uses a wheelchttps://mylovingselfandme.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php#titledivhair. The race, color, disability are secondary. In this article and another “Respecting Differences: Everyday Ways to Teach Children About Respect” the focus is on teaching kids to respect themselves and everyone else. My Loving Self and Me does too.
There are far more likenesses within us than differences. The likenesses are what connect us in oneness and yet too often there is disconnect, because the differences are the focus. Respect people as people first- all the descriptions are secondary. Children are born seeing the likenesses. They don’t need to be taught that differences are anything but a way for us to tell each other apart.