I’m thinking about Sam*.
Sam is nine. She’s fierce and funny and kills it on the netball court as Goal Shooter (girlfriend never misses!). But I happen to know Sam has been in tears today about school today. Her friends (I use that term loosely) have suddenly decided that in 2016 she’s not worthy to hang around them. So her lunch breaks last week were spent alone.
To say Sammy is dreading today is an understatement.
And Sam is not alone. Not by a long shot. Last night thousands of children were in their rooms quietly worrying. They’re worrying about surviving school today.
In the swirl of this month’s back-to-school ads there’s been a lot of cheerful talk about school lunches! New shoes! Backpacks!
It can make us forget that for thousands of kids the sheer idea of walking back through those school gates is an utter nightmare. And tonight – Sunday night – they’re stressing about it.
Maybe they’re new to the school and feel sick with nerves about making new friends. Maybe their stomach is in knots because they know last year’s bullying is about to start all over again. (And maybe the school’s bullying policy isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.) Or maybe due to myriad reasons – a sick family member, divorcing parents, financial struggles at home – school is the very last place they want to be this week.
The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that for THOUSANDS of kids going back to school today has them feeling anxious.
But here’s what I know. For every child who is feeling isolated or alone there are hundreds of kids at that same school who would befriend them. Stand up for them. Who would say: ‘You can sit with me’ – if they just knew what was going on. I know that for sure. The vast majority of kids in every school are GREAT kids. Kind, fierce, empathetic.