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  • ivanildotrindade 4:23 pm on March 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: angry boys, bringing up boys, school shooting in ohio, school shootings, troubled youth   

    Boys are easily breakable 

    Boys are easily breakable, and not so easily “mendable.” They are demonstrably more immature than girls in general and can experience ups and downs with more regularity. For the longest time they try to live up to the expectation of being tough when inside they are so vulnerable. One person, one tragedy, one love gone wrong can totally suspend the course of their lives and turn anger from a guest to a resident inside their soul.

    Joe (not his real name) is 10 or 11. He has three strikes against him: 1. He is Chinese; 2. He lost his father to cancer about three years ago; 3. He is an incredibly smart kid. The other day I saw him in church and asked how he was doing in school. “Good,” he said, “except that the kids bully me all the time.” I asked him, “What do you mean?” “Well,” he said, “they call me ‘weird’ and say names and stuff about me.” “Have they been physically rough with you?” I asked. “Sometimes,” he said. I told him to tell a teacher or a school official any time he felt threatened, and to avoid being alone with the boys who do that. He said he was doing that.

    I was amazed that this boy was talking to me about his personal life, but then I remembered, “He doesn’t have a father and he probably doesn’t have anyone to talk to him about these things.” I told him to continue to study hard. “One day you will be ahead of all these people who are making fun of you today.” He said, “I am already the top student in my class by far.” I told him how proud I was of him. And I said that he can talk to me any time about these things.

    I am not trying to make myself be something I am not here. Truth be told, I am sure that most of the time I have failed to seize the moment to encourage a young child who feels alone and confused. I have no doubt I failed my own children many times. And so many of these missed opportunities are now gone forever and that makes me sad.

    I remember the funeral of that boy’s father. There weren’t too many people there. He was an engineer at an automotive company. I barely knew the family but decided to go anyway because my neighbor, who is also Chinese and goes to my church, had made a point of letting me know what was happening. Funerals are always sad ordeals but funerals for people who die away from home in a foreign country are doubly sad. And I remember that boy and his older sister. I am sure they were the loneliest people in that room.

    School teachers and administrators need to take another look at boys. They should try to know their history. Do they have a father and a mother? Are they both living with them? Do they have someone to talk to? Are any of their parents serving time in jail now? Do they have older siblings? Are their drugs in the home? Has their short life already been marked by tragedy?

    I know the same could be done about girls, but the fact of the matter is that troubled boys are the ones pulling the triggers in schools, not girls. And don’t tell me that these questions are intrusive, that they invade people’s privacy, etc., etc. I am willing to guess that more lives could have been saved if people were a little more willing to probe.

    Of course, in the process of doing this, mistakes will be made. This week, for example, we read about a father who was arrested in Toronto because his daughter drew a picture of a man carrying a gun and she said something to the teacher about her dad killing “bad guys” with it (I may not be getting all the details here). While the media is coming down hard on the teacher, I am more sympathetic to her. Wish more people would be vigilant like that. To read the story, go here. You will probably agree with me that if there is someone at fault here it is the authorities for using excessive force and intimidation. But again I don’t know if in Canada someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    At any rate, I tell everybody out there: treat your boys with tenderness and remember how easily they break. And if you ever do anything to contribute to breaking a boy, remember that it may take all the rest of us to try to “unbreak” him. Love your boy, hug him every day and tell him it is okay to cry sometimes. And if you know a lonely boy in your circle of influence, reach out to him today. It won’t take you long to see that you can make a huge difference.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

  • ivanildotrindade 5:19 pm on March 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bad examples, bullying, , grandparenting, , pouncing on the weak, school shooting in ohio, T. J. Lang   

    Bullying does not start in the school yard 

    Stories. What are their values if not to teach us something about ours or other people’s characters? Yes, some are funny, some can entertain, but if they can’t teach something for us to imitate or avoid, they are useless tales. In my book, anyway. So let me share a few with you this week.

    A friend of mine tells me about his mother-in-law. She goes to a nice hotel with his family and while there she hits the pool with the grandchildren. The kids immediately set their sides on a couple of noodles they must have to play with in the pool, but there is one problem — the noodles are not available. They are currently being in possession of another set of little kids who are happily playing with their young father, who happens to be Asian.

    The kids go to grandma and demand to have those noodles. Now what would you do if you were the grandma in question? Any sensible person would call the kids and tell them to wait their turn, right? You would probably say something like, “Look, they got here before we did, and they got the toys. We must wait until they are done or if they lose interest, we can ask whether we might use them.”

    Not this grandmother, though. She tells the children to go to the corner where the happy kids are and start making noise, splashing water “and you will see how quickly they will leave the pool.” This reminded me of a friend from Israel who married a Brazilian lady. He told me that whenever he got stopped by the Highway Patrol for some violation — over there they take you to a little office along the road — he would order his kids to get out of the car, and mess with everything inside the little office — bathrooms, telephones, scissors, you name it. Soon the frustrated policeman would tell him to go away and take his little devils with him!

    Back to my friend’s story. Sure enough, after a little while, the exasperated family upped and left the pool, leaving the precious noodles to the “victors.” The grandmother, upon seeing this, began to celebrate in a loud voice, saying, “Didn’t I tell you? They left! It works every time!” Not quite. The family that was there first could have complained. They could have gone to management. Or, they could be the owners of the noodles!

    So the grandmother was not only teaching her grandchildren that bullying is cool, she was also saying that it always works. She was affirming in no uncertain terms that the world is to the strongest and you can always bet that the ones less familiar with the game will back away. She was shouting to her grandchildren that intimidation is better than communication and worse of all, she was training them to ridicule those who had been unjustly treated, as if they were to be faulted for breaking under pressure.

    I submit to you that this Grandmother was laying the groundwork for the making of violent people. Worse yet: her behavior is the garden where many criminal minds were planted. She ought to have her head examined and I would be willing to scream that in her ears.

    So here is my final question: did T. J. Lang ever have a grandmother or an adult-figure who behaved like that in his dark past? I am willing to bet he did! Sadly.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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