When I engage my children in conversation about what they did at school, one of the most important subjects that I usually pay closest attention to, is recess. I know that sounds counter-intuitive to what I "should" be interested in, because of course, when you send your child into an academic environment, the most important thing should be those academics, right?
When I listen to my children talk about which group of friends they played with at recess, what games they played, or how they resolved any playground conflicts, for me it's peek through a window into a part of their lives that is a little more difficult to control. Sometimes the playground stories are a little heartbreakingly difficult to hear as a parent. Stories of teasing, accidental injuries, disagreements...yes, many of those conflicts are common among the school set. But when I hear some of these stories, I have to admit, sometimes deep down I just want to go to their school and make all of their problems go away.
But we have to remember that the playground is filled with children with various backgrounds, ethnicities, traditions...or just kids with their own "story", and that parents who micromanage their children's relationships, I think, do more harm than good. If the parents are always solving problems for their children, how can these children learn this very important lesson on their own when their parents are not around? How will they ever learn to cope, deal, understand and get along with those who are different from them. Because EVERYONE is different.
I've come across a beautiful documentary, "@Random", about those affected with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects 1 in 100 North Americans (the average age of onset is 7 years old, so if you look around the playground, there is a good chance you'll see someone with Tourette). The filmmakers collected many films and arranged them randomly, so every time someone watches the documentary, it would be different. Just like Tourette Syndrome.
And today, the Tourette Syndrome Foundation launched an awareness campaign that touches on that very point of experiencing what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. For 24 hours, you can experience what it’s like to have Tourette Syndrome by giving up control of your Tweets. (For more information, see surrenderyoursay.com or follow the hashtag #SurrenderYourSay on Twitter)
Watching the @Random documentary is an amazing reminder that we are all different, we all have a story, and as adults, we need model and teach our children that understanding each other is the first step to getting along.
It also is a reminder to me, that as my children get older my need to control is the one thing I need to learn to surrender, in order for them to grow.