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What Grief Has Taught Me About Listening

Today was a year to the date when Amanda Todd and I went to Whiterock B.C. to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather of September and take so many selfies of each other. It was a hilarious day. One of which I will never forget as I saw Amanda in the carefree state that she once was just a couple of years back.
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It is still hard for me to understand why I keep hearing about stories in real life and on social media from and about kids and parents about the things that are happening in their lives. It's the same things --- kids not being nice to one another. Kids sharing explicit photos of themselves or each other. (Do they not yet know or remember that the making and distribution of photos is a criminal act.) Kids not understanding the repercussions of cruel jokes and gestures. As teachers, we always ask the question -- how do we develop our capacities? Now we also need to ask: how do we develop resiliency? Is timidity even a word?

I think often about how we don't see or listen to the all the signs in the kids that aren't happy. They don't feel like they are being listened to enough and they sometimes just give up. Or they go from the confident child to the quiet and lonely one. Becoming more isolated. As parents, we think this might be "just a teenage phase."

We remember the days when we were in our bedrooms listening to our 45 rpm records and then cassette tapes. But the kids are in their rooms for different reasons and usually technology and social media are part of that reason. Unless social media among our children is somewhat monitored, there are chances that it may be the catalyst that causes hurt and angst among them. As parents, if we heard our kids say hurtful things to a friend, we would take our child aside and let him/her know (a teachable moment we would call them). But if we are not able to see or hear what goes on and the teachable moment is not present, does it reinforce the kids to repeat their behaviours? How do we teach moral responsibility?

This week, I spoke with a mom in Saskatchewan this week who lost her young son. She was sad and distraught over what she was going to do in her life without her baby boy. As I grappled with the "right" words, I had to think back to 11 months ago and what I was going through. What did people say to me? What were my reactions? Did I pay attention to their words? I know there was much sympathy and sadness. But I also know (even now), no one really knows the right things to say. And sometimes they come out sounding like the wrong things. What I said to the mom was that she needed to follow her heart to wherever it may land. Cry when you need to cry. Laugh when you need to laugh. Surround yourself with friends and those that care for you unconditionally.

As parents who lose children, we are in auto mode for the first month (at least). We look like we are walking, talking and functioning -- but I am not so sure how lucid and coherent we really are. If it weren't for those around me telling me to eat and sleep (which of course we don't listen to), I probably wouldn't have made it. So rule #1 -- Make sure that you have people around you that can look after you.

Back to the topic of kids .... are we making a dent in what the kids are hearing and seeing in how to interact more appropriately? For example: IF IT ISN'T NICE, THEN DON'T SAY IT!!! So why are there those that are continually mean -- online and offline. What purpose does it really serve other than trying to exert power and control. If ignored, would those that annoy and bother stop and go away.

How does one create more power with the bystanders? Where should it start? Home? School? Or shouldn't we just work as a community. Have working partners in the community and school? Start the educating early. Teach parents before they become parents? Have workshops on a regular basis? And most importantly, encourage all to come. Have childminding services so that those with young children can participate. Have older youth child mind to encourage youth leadership and mentorship.

I will be attending Me to We Day Toronto this coming week (September 19). The list of presenters and performers looks phenomenal. The best part will be seeing the many youth/young people in the arena. Knowing that they have "MADE A DIFFERENCE" in their global community or school.

If we could all do a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) every morning for someone we know or don't know -- it could be the start of a happier day for someone.

Today was a year to the date when Amanda and I went to Whiterock BC to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather of September and take so many selfies of each other. It was a hilarious day. One of which I will never forget as I saw Amanda in the carefree state that she once was just a couple of years back. Even walking through the shops, she was calm and less anxious. When she felt herself stressing, she knew what she needed to do. Go outside, look at the ocean and just breathe deeply.

Miss you Princess Snowflake!!!