School playgrounds are challenging places. Many of us haven’t quite survived them or their equivalents. They are part of growing up and some of the memories created there, stay with us for a long time. Our childhood never leaves us.
The playground has now extended itself into our private spaces via the World Wide Web. There is nowhere to hide. No place is safe. The aggressors can be cowardly and hide but the attacked are exposed even when sitting alone in their bedrooms. Any child from any background can be a victim and any child from any background can be a culprit.
How easy it is to make people feel they don’t fit in, by words or by indifference. Many agonise over fitting in and being accepted for who they are. The deep desire to fit in can cause misery for life. The feelings of non-acceptance are deeply damaging when internalised, leading to long term mental and physical health problems.
It must not be easy for kids to talk about being bullied. It must hurt. It must be embarrassing. Attention needs to be paid to what they say to alert us to the subtle or overt bullying that goes on. Every blessing requires care and commitment. Everyone needs to feel loved and valued. While meanness may afford short-term gains, kindness is transformative.
In Primary school, Saagar’s friend Adam always stood up for him in the ‘school playground’. They were best friends for many years and I am very grateful to Adam for his kindness. Saagar was too even though at the time he did not know that he would not survive the playground. Neither did I.
Henry James said, “ Three things in human life are important: first is to be kind; second is to be kind; and third is to be kind.”
The ‘Special K’.