I had a blog post written and ready for today's posting on Thursday evening. Since then, the news cycle has exploded with more sh*t. Therefore, I feel compelled to save the piece entitled Sh*t Happens for another, more appropriate time...
I am absolutely sickened that we live in this era of oppression and brutality. And as the details of each incident (near and far) unfold, we learn that not only are the authorities OK with the status quo, but they are standing firm on coercively inhumane policies and tactics.
To be clear - this scenario isn't only happening in more populated and ethnically diverse places or even foreign countries. It is happening right here, in the NoCo, too.
The playbook has not changed throughout history. When authoritarians feel threatened, they double down on harmful practices. Intimidation, threats, harassment, and violence are all tools of the trade.
We see it everywhere, and I hear about it daily from kids and their families who reach out to me for help. It is utterly heartbreaking and exhausting.
I obviously don't have the answers to our massive list of societal ills; nonetheless, I know that coercion, persecution, punishment, and outright brutality are not what we need more of.
In the end, I guess, I can only go into battle in my little corner of the world each day, fully prepared to snuff out inequity with radical inclusion, threats with unconditional support, and intimidation with my own brand of fiery kindness.
Weekly Creative Meditation
The kiddos at both Centers were fully engaged - creating, playing, and building community. However, as you can see, only the DRC East staff in Massena managed to document all the coolness. (Thanks, Karen G.) The Canton staff will try to do better this coming week.
This third DRC - True Story is more about a general life learning experience than the actual quote.
B asked to go to the post office to get a package when we went to the library to pick up some books on hold. After some of us went to the library and came back out, B was not outside waiting for us. I went into the Post Office to see what was taking them so long. They had provided the tracking number, and the post office employee was looking for the package. Come to find out, it was misaddressed and ended up at SUNY Canton. Long story - short - B navigated all of the twists and turns of the saga on their own (I was only there to provide transportation) and successfully collected their package that held the all-important paws that completed their cat costume.
We know that kindness, affirmation, and encouragement create space for positive change. I could talk about the chemical cocktail that runs through our bodies - that makes us feel good - when we are supported, which, in turn, feeds our intrinsic motivation to be our best. Or I could provide scientific data which indicates comfortable, intentionally creative environments and empathetic responses can begin to heal ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and trauma.
In any case, whichever way we look at it - positivity affects how we feel, behave, and connect with others. Negativity will affect all those things in the opposite direction.
Change can not be forced - it can only be nurtured through modeling and mutual care. Developing a culture of mutual respect is at the core of every authentic relationship.
We each have the extreme power to make or break someone's day simply by how we engage with them. When we expect to find "awesomeness" and goodwill, we will discover them. And when we seek things to criticize and judge, we will find them too and, in the process, will only generate a defensive mechanism that builds walls instead of the connections that lead to authenticity and excellence.
Weekly Creative Meditation
We have some pretty tight-knit crews at both Centers.
This is the second in the series of "DRC - True Stories." E was developing a creation while talking about building a Lego set and following the directions at home. He explained that he likes taking the different elements from different sets that are all jumbled together in our Lego box and imagining new ideas.
I have at least one conversation a day that invokes the sentiment - "young people these days are lazy and don't even know how to..." Fill in the blank - with read cursive, write (by hand), spell, do math without a calculator, etc. (the list really goes on and on...)
Let's first consider what I believe are indisputably the top ten necessary qualities of any successful person.
Now let's examine all those "should-s" dictated by society. Many of them are relics of a bygone age before we had the world in our pockets. Do young people need to know how to read cursive - no. But they can if they want to. Do they have to memorize spelling words and grammar rules? Nope! I am miserable at spelling and grammar despite eight grim years of those detested spelling drills, but I still write prolifically - without (many) mistakes. Do they need to learn about - x,y, & z? Not unless it is something they want or will need for what they plan to pursue - in the future. And even then, they can study those things when they make that determination.
Our lives are brimming with adaptive, assistive technology designed to allow us to do the things we otherwise would not be able to - with new stuff coming out daily. We can calculate anything, travel anywhere, anytime in history (virtually) to learn the culture, create cool stuff, listen to music or books, watch anything we desire, and look up random sh*t - just because we are curious. We no longer need to rely on some informed individual disseminating the info from the front of a classroom, to be memorized and subsequently regurgitated on an exam and then forgotten.
Anyone can acquire the knowledge they need and want - in any modality that works for them - from anywhere. There are no restrictive boundaries. The only requirements are to have the skills listed above and the flexibility to adapt.
The world will always be evolving, despite the folks who shout from the rooftops, "but, but, but they need to learn... because I had to."
To them, I want to say, "did you learn to sign your name by spitting chewed-up pigment around your hand to make a hand print?" No, because we big-brained humans developed new technologies throughout millennia - and we will continue to do so.
Weekly Creative Meditation
Kiddos at both Centers continue to cruise along happily exploring new ideas in the new year.
"No" is a complete sentence. We, as a society, seem to (mostly) understand this concept - as it relates to consent and respect in general. However, we have difficulty comprehending that children should be afforded autonomy too. They should be able to make decisions based on what feels right to them - at that moment.
I believe that when a child has autonomy, they are more aware of not only how the decisions they make will affect them personally - but the repercussions for others. Because they discover that their actions have direct consequences. Within that lesson, they learn responsibility, and their innate determination shines through.
When, instead, we tell kids what, when, how, and where to do something - because we want them to learn accountability and motivation, instead they only learn that they do not have to think for themselves. They become anxious, don't know how to problem solve, and are deathly afraid of making mistakes, which quickly leads to learned helplessness.
When you give kids the authority to say "no," you are telling them you respect them and trust that they will make decisions based on what is best for them. Within that, they quickly discover what they want to say "yes" to, that mistakes are just one more learning tool, and that their authenticity is something to celebrate, not hide.
Weekly Creative Meditation
We are delighted that Christopher Raymo has returned to the DRC family. He is a musician and NoCo native who grew up in Raymondville. His return has been seamless - he spends his days at DRC with the Seedlings Crew and in the music room facilitating musical adventures.
The Peeps at both Centers are happy to be back after the Holiday Break. We have once again increased our numbers substantially - with four kiddos joining Massena and three in Canton.
And finally, a fun story from Friday - this kiddo told Chris that he brought his plunger with him to DRC because he wanted the plunger to feel happy - like him.
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