In 5th grade i had a teacher named Mrs. Killion. She was a large chested round southern black woman who had a penchant of saying "I'm from Missouri, You have to SHOW ME" For those of you like myself, who never heard this old saying, it is one of the unofficial state mottoes. It meant nothing to me at the time but I woke up this morning thinking about some of the young boys at the place where I work, specifically when they are hit with a big feeling and they don't know what to do with it. Most of the time whatever the feeling is consumes them like a dry tree in a forest fire. No one has ever shown them what to do with a big feeling.
I've shared bits and pieces of this concept before but I personally keep revisiting it because I'm just not through with it yet. We are born human but people have to show us, model for us what humanity looks and feels like.
Case in point, my dad used to raise exotic birds like Parrots and Macaws. Some pairs would lay eggs and daddy would have to take the eggs immediately out of the nest box, because the birds did not know how to sit on the eggs and keep them warm. Other birds new how to sit on the eggs but the moment the baby birds hatched, the parents abandoned them and they would starve to death because the birds just didn't know how to raise their babies. Those babies were pulled the moment they hatched and fed by my stepmother with a tiny eyedropper every 2 hours for weeks.
The birds had been bred in captivity so long that the parenting/ reproduction skill sets were completely lost. None of them could parent because they never saw it done and the instinct literally left them.
It's a big ass deep thought for me when I see boys of 14 consumed by anger or fear. No one ever taught them healthy ways of dealing with big feelings. No one taught me either and I mistakenly assumed that I was suppose to magically no how to do it. I felt ashamed at my lack ability to function through big emotion, I thought it was a defect of personality on my part. I didn't know that I was supposed to have been shown what do.
I get it now. Kids need to be shown what love looks like. They need to see how you treat the people you love and what your words sound like when you deal with your loved ones. Kid's need to see what forgiveness looks like . They need ringside seats to when compassion is shown to those who can do nothing for you. They need to see perseverance when a dream is collapsing down on someones head and they need to see that feelings aren't fatal. Neither is "failure".
We cannot rise above our level of programming. If we failed to get any quality programming or modeling as a child and lessons in humanity, we aren't magically going to wake up with them as adults. I'm reprogramming myself on a daily basis with a multitude of sources of new ideas, I'm gathering things I either missed as a child or wasn't exposed to. One big ass ugly feeling isn't enough today to shut me down completely and declare Marshall Law. It is only because I have witness friends and associates face the impossible and get through it that I am able to tell myself "My story doesn't end here". My peers and friends "model" those things that make me a good, capable, functioning human today and I learn from everyone I come in contact with.
I may have those moments when I get so mad it feels like i have been doused and soaked in gasoline and lit on fire, but I don't go into "ULTIMATE SELF DESTRUCT" mode when it happens.
How do we teach children that we are not slaves to our emotions, that one bad feeling isn't enough to implode upon ourselves. How do we let kids know, that what your having is a feeling and it will most certainly pass. Just don't take an action where you harm yourself or others and don't let the bad feeling have so much power you give away your future because of the pain of the present.
We all have to be shown. We joke about life not coming with a manual, it's because actions speak louder than words. I guess I'm am from Missouri, "You got to show me" too Mrs. Killion.