Tonight’s chat with my friend Mr. Ross LeBrun at #totallyrossome is one that is so genuinely important and something I take seriously as a teacher. I am a male teacher that teaches primary age children. That fact alone throws people for a loop. When I mention it, I get looks of surprise, condescension, and the inevitable, “awww that is so sweet.” Apparently there is something inherently unmanly about enjoying helping young children grow and develop their first real sense of independence and individuality.
I consider myself a decent man, strong, gentle, patient, kind, compassionate, and logical. Yes, I am a man. Yes, I wear pink. Yes, I like to read, write, and dance. Yes, I enjoy classical music (sometimes), art, and cooking. Yes I wear pink, purple, and yellow (colors don’t have a gender.)
Now for the one that shocks kids the most…
I have never been in a fight. Sibling squabbling not withstanding, I have never punched another human being, or struct them in anger. I have knocked a few people down being physical during sports, but within the confines of the game. Let me say it again, give it a chance to sink in. I am a strong man that has NEVER been in a real fight.
Strength does not come from fighting physically, it comes from having the ability not to fight, and instead to endure incredible hardships through more difficult, but ultimately more meaningful mediums. Too often strength gets mixed up with brute force. Sure, some people who fight are strong, but that kind of strength is more easily broken.
Raising Boys into Men is no small task, nor is raising girls into women. I feel the charge of that obligation every day when over 20 six year old kids walk through my door. They are not just there to learn to read, write, or do math, they are there to learn how to be good humans. Part of being a man is simply part of being a good human.
Raising our kids into good people is a great challenge. I take pride in the fact that I reach kids early in that process. I take pride in the fact that I am one of the first male role models they have and I carefully consider that with my actions. Boys do not become men over night, over a weekend, or with any passage of time. Instead, boys become men at some point when what they have learned from their experiences has given them an opportunity to grow beyond petty, squabbles and develop empathy and compassion.