A few days ago, I had a 'tween look me directly in the eye and say, with deep sadness, disappointment, and frustration in his voice, “I think I am being too nice”. My heart, quite literally, broke into a million little pieces when I realized, upon hearing that short, emphatic statement, that this child felt that he could no longer allow his innate goodness to shine through.
When our view of the world is predominately influenced by the news media’s obsessively intense magnification and sensationalization of hatred and division --- is it any wonder that our kids perceive the world to be a bad and dangerous place, where everyone has an agenda, and, no matter what you do, you will get hurt? They clearly comprehend that the expected and called upon response to all of this “badness” is fear. Especially, fear of the other.
My immediate and spontaneous reaction, of course, is to prove to this kid, and, to every single child I encounter that there is no such thing as being too nice. Being thoughtful, agreeable, and pleasant does not require becoming a doormat. You can set boundaries and limits without being mean, and, you can stand up for what you believe in without being wishy-washy, or, for that matter, a bully or a jerk. Being kind involves recognizing another person’s humanity without judging, blaming, or fearing them. This is my expectation for all of my students at DRC. It is modeled by every staff member and volunteer who spends time in our space. Niceness (in all its perceived blandness), very simply, is the foundation for all we do, because building community demands respect from and for every unique individual.
I want them to know that there are tons of positive things happening on this planet. There are more ethical, morally grounded, responsible, dedicated, outstanding, capable, inspired, imaginative, and, yes, simply, good and kind people in this world, who are working hard to make it a better place for everyone, than not. And, I want them to fully understand, as humans, we are much more alike than our individual and/or tribal ideologies would allow us to believe.
It is my greatest wish, that every child (everywhere) has the opportunity (and reason) to recognize, on a deep level, that each of them have an extensive network of support, which will always be there to provide steady and nurturing, encouragement and love. When we can achieve that simple goal – I truly believe that our reality (true stories) will reflect the good in all of us.
DRC NEWS Art and Craft week is our last week of summer programs before the academic year begins. Register today. On September 5th, we are thrilled to begin our 4th full year with new programs, facilities, and resources. The following experiential offerings are in addition to our Seedlings Program and regular schedule which feature a full range of classes and activities that have been specifically requested by our student members. Water, Woods, & Wild Wonders Every Tuesday our student members will have the opportunity to spend the entire day outside Water. Woods, & Wild Wonders immersed in our natural world. Our September schedule includes: canoeing on the Little River, exploring the Clear Pond Wilderness, visiting Martin’s farm stand to spend time in the fields and learn about local food, and working with Nature Up North with their MOW the Grasse project to monitor the Grasse River at Heritage Park. DRC Workout Room Yes, we have a gym filled with equipment, including: free weights, a heavy punching bag with boxing gloves, a stationary bike, treadmill, balance ball, and yoga mats. We are looking for a small size (not flimsy) basketball hoop that we can attach to the wall. If you have that or any other gym equipment you would be willing to donate, please let us know. Maker Room Our hands-on space has been enhanced this summer with a long project counter as well as a nearly full service kitchen. Thank you to Lenore VanderZee and Sean OBrien for donating a FULL-size refrigerator! We are excited to offer our kids the opportunity to learn how to cook and bake. Music Room The DRC music program has taken over the old office space. It features more space and a door! Our students have the chance to try out a large variety of instruments on their own or during a class. We also have engineering and sound equipment that allows them to record karaoke, original pieces, and soundtracks for films and animations they are creating, as well as podcasts. DRC accepts new student members throughout the year. Please contact Maria to learn more.