I habitually use the words loving kindness, in conjunction, when I describe what we provide all of our student members at Deep Root Center, not as hyperbole, but as a direct testament to our philosophy and nature.
Why not, simply, say kindness? Kind behavior is what most of us want to receive and what we want our children to learn, it represents politeness, chivalry, caring, respect, and, for some, goodness.
I will contend, however, that our culture (remember the definition: learned behavior) contributes greatly to undermining the very essence of kindness by demanding and directing our children's actions. The following are just a few typical examples: Two kids are playing and one child does not want to share their toy with the other and the adult steps in to insist that the other child have a turn with the toy, instead of allowing the two children to negotiate the details on their own. And, then there is, “go give Aunt Betsy a hug, she hasn't seen you in a long time.” Or, a child is frustrated and strikes out at another and the adult tells the child to go and apologize. The underlying reason for the primary insult is not addressed. The child has only learned that offering that, “I am sorry,” gets them out of exploring the very real and intense emotions that precipitated the action.
A youth's autonomy and free flowing emotion is directly inhibited when adults step in to change the dynamic of any situation by insisting on certain “nice” socially acceptable behaviors or micro-managing their lives. It does not take long before they involuntarily look to someone else for guidance instead of solving their own problems, recognizing the feelings involved, making their own decisions, and taking responsibility for their actions.
In offering loving kindness, on the other hand, we recognize the emotions present in our daily lives. We literally put the “heart” before everything else. At Deep Root Center conversation (see last week's post) and modeling are at the center of every single interaction, whether an informal chat, a scheduled class, or conflict resolution, the dialogue between equals sharing excitement, pain, anger, joy, as well as the mundane, permits everyone in the space to feel real emotion, solve problems, make important choices, and, maybe, even learn compassion and empathy along the way.
October 29th, after Canton's Phantoms in the Park Event – all the young phantoms are invited to Deep Root Center's Haunted House for ages 6+. There will also be a designated fun zone for the younger set with toys and story time as well as a spooky space all their own. Face painting and Halloween crafts will be available for all ages. Please spread the word!
DRC is still looking for folks to assist with hands-on projects. If you are a craft maven or woodworker and would like to spend sometime with some awesome kids, please get in touch.
Reminder: Youth can leave school to take charge of their education and become members of DRC anytime during the year. We are here for those who are ready now.