Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hatred Starts At Home. (insert - big fat frowny face)

A couple months ago I was volunteering in ChatterBug's classroom for their annual holiday party right before Winter Break. While the kids were in Music class another mother and I set up the plates and cookies and drinks. As we were placing the cookies the teacher rushed over to tell us not to put the Hanukkah cookies on this one girl's plate. I was a little puzzled as they were just sugar cookies with a frosting Star of David on them. So you know me, I asked her why.

Earlier that morning this little girl told all the kids in the class not to eat the cookies another girl brought in because Jewish people put poison in them. It went back and forth for a little while and resulted in both girls crying hysterically, then calls going home to both families at lunch time. It turns out the first little girl's family practices a religion that does not tolerate Judaism. The teacher handled the situation as beautifully as I could have hoped and later the two girls were the best of friends again on the playground. But I went home that day and cried.

In this day, in the face of bullying, horrific crimes and nonsensical destruction of decency, which the majority of people believe is worth preventing or stopping, why are we perpetuating hatred at home? That is where this starts; But it should never start to begin with, at least in my opinion.

Just today ChatterBug was in one of his obsessive "The Gators are way better than the Seminoles" moods (I mean no kidding, right? But...) and commented "I can't believe I had to play basketball with a SEMINOLE today." SIGH. So I had to have a conversation about how our family likes the Gators but other families like the Seminoles and it was ok and we don't have to be obnoxious about it (unless you're at a football game and all, I left that out) and we can still be friends with and like people who like different things from us. This led to a series of "Why?" questions (I thought that ended at three years old?) which resulted in "if we were all the same Bug, it'd be BORING."

Sports metaphors for acceptance? I don't know. This is serious stuff. How can you teach your children to hate others based on their religion, skin color, sexual orientation, sports team... or even arm length, eye color, hair color, or other arbitrary trait or choice? It makes me sick and so very, very sad.