Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Buddy

        Being comfortable in your own skin is difficult; especially when you are just growing up.  I am very happy to be an adult now and be able to view my life with a bit more detachment. I have come to grow comfortable with who I am and with how I have chosen to live my life. But, as a boy and, even more so, as  teenager, my life was filled with anxiety and self-doubt.  Was I handsome enough?  Did girls like me?  Was everyone else out having fun on a Friday night except me? Was I wrong to not like hunting and fishing and cars like many other boys I knew?  Was it ok to want to do well in school?  Was I simply a big nerd?!

     Well, as it turned out, I was a big nerd and I have grown into a man who is a big nerd, too.  And, I am ok with that.  That is the epiphany that I experienced that changed my life and made living it bearable.  I am quiet and prefer the world of my own thoughts......and, that is ok.   I like reading and learning and pursuing knowledge for knowledge's sake......and, that is ok.  I have chosen for my life work, a career built around the worlds of small children instead of the worlds of Finance or Law or the Skilled Trades....and that is ok.  There is nothing wrong with any of these other choices....for other people but, just not for me.  Coming to the conclusion that I could live a life of value and worth, on my own terms, and not negatively impact anyone else's life by doing so was the epiphany for me.   I love my life and how I am living it and I feel very lucky to be able to make that statement.

     But, when I was younger, I lived with far less certainty that who I was...was enough. Being young is one of the toughest gigs out there. I wouldn't trade my worldly experience for youthful possibility, no matter the money. However, I have chosen for my career, a profession charged with the responsibility of helping  young people to make sense out of their world in ways that matter to them.  That is an awesome responsibility.  As teachers, we are nurturers of self-esteem. We do, in a school setting, what good parents do at home; we plant the seeds of a positive self-concept within the children in our care.   

     There are many ways in which we attempt to accomplish this at school. Let me share with you but one, tangible method currently employed at schools within the boundaries of my School Board.  Admittedly, I have chosen to discuss the concept of the "Buddy Bench" for personal reasons, as you shall soon see. 

    Here is a news report in which my daughter appears on camera.  The story is about The Buddy Bench, which appeared at my daughter's school in an attempt to promote healthier social play during recess times.

     Personally, I think that it takes a lot of courage to publicly declare that you are friendless in a social setting such as a school playground.  But, the reality is that to be lonely at school is not uncommon.  Many children grow up feeling different or inadequate and, as a result,  end up more spectators than participants during times of social play.  Navigating the mine field that is the social side of school is a skill that not all children can master on their own.  Some need help from caring adults at school, at church or from coaches on sports teams.  Some need help from their peers.

     At my daughters' school, they are promoting the concept that being friendly is, at times, more than just being with your favourite friends.  It is about shining a light on those who sometimes find themselves at the margins and then, being willing to help.  Sometimes, all the help that a lonely child needs is for someone to come and sit beside them for awhile on a bench. There is much compassion and humanity to be found in the simple act of companionship. Hopefully, my daughter will have such a friend if ever she is lonely while at school.  Just as importantly, I hope that she will be that friend should someone else ever feel alone amid the crowd.  A simple act of kindness can be the building block to a better world.  

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