Monday, November 30, 2015

Give Some Credit Where It's Due

Kids today get a pretty bad rap. They are entitled, indulgent and spoiled. They have never learned to lose, are used to getting their own way and don't respect their elders. Did I miss anything?

Social media is hailed as one of the evils of the modern day. By connecting with the world we have forgotten about privacy, modesty and boundaries. We fail to connect with the people around us because we are too busy connecting with people online. Sounds pretty bad, huh?

Kids *on* social media must then be one of the four horsemen. Right? Right??

Of course they are. Except for when they aren't.

The Saturday before last, a sweet, wonderful, young girl that we know, Ella*, collapsed, whilst at a sporting event due to an aneurysm. She was rushed to the hospital and placed into a medically induced coma, while the doctors worked to find the bleed and stop it, to save her life. This lovely child is the picture of perfect health and the product of healthy, wonderful, loving family. We have known her for years, and have been praying for her, constantly.

I remember, when I was in school, we had a classmate that passed away, unexpected, due to an aneurysm. She had a headache one day, laid down to take a nap and try to sleep it off, and just...never woke up.

It was shocking. It was upsetting. It was scary...

We learned about it quite a few days after it had happened. For the first several days, she was just...absent. It wasn't until the family started releasing details about funeral arrangements that the school took steps to pull us together and inform us. They made support resources available. They provided a structure and a framework for us to process the news and to deal with it. They offered helpful suggestions for how we could do something for the family. In short, the school held our collective hands and controlled the flow of information to us. and told us how to cope.

We learned about this young girl's aneurysm almost immediately. TGC and I had gone for a run. We came back and as she was preparing to post something on her instagram about our run, she noticed that her timeline was flooded with messages about her friend.

She turned those big, green eyes to me and asked "what does it mean, when a blood vessel in someone's brain bursts?"

Of all of the questions that I could ever envision coming out of my 12 year old's lips, that was certainly not one of them.

As she scrolled through her timeline, more information popped up. She looked at me and she said "Mama, it says here that Ella had"


"...during her swim meet. And that she was rushed to the hospital. It says here that she is in surgery..."

I reached out to the grown-ups that I knew, that might have been there...they didn't even seem to know *that* much. Word had not gotten circulated as quickly, through the parental social circles.

"Mom, we are all supposed to wear orange and fluorescent green, to school, on Monday, for Ella."

As the day wore on, more information started to trickle in, from the adults. Detailed information. Frightening information. We, as parents, were all in shock. We didn't know what to say or do. We couldn't answer our children's questions about *why* or *how* this could happen. We were certainly not organizing the communication to our kids or directing them on how to process the information. We weren't telling them, en masse, how to cope. I think we were all just *in shock*.

Later that day, posts started showing up on *my* timelines and feeds...beautiful signs and cards and posters for Ella...all with the hashtag #Ellastrong, all with her family members tagged.

Over the next several days, guardedly optimistic news would come out of the hospital. Ella seems likely to make a full and speedy recovery. As these tidbits have come along, we have passed them down to our kids...but they typically already seem to know. They have their own communication system up and running...and it is humming along way more effectively than ours.

On Monday, the whole school was a sea of orange and green. (Being a maroon and grey town, that is pretty unusual.) There were even teachers wearing their "Ella Colors".

...I mention all of this...these signs of solidarity...this outpouring of highlight an important facet. All of this? Was organized by the kids. While we adults were reeling with the news and trying to fight our way past the "oh my goodness, what if that were *my* child...", the kids were mobilizing and organizing and rallying themselves around one of their own. They came up with the idea to wear the colors. They made the signs. They spread the word.

These kids that we are raising...they live so much of their lives *online*. They get such a bad rap, for being the social media generation...but maybe, just maybe it's not such a bad thing.

Social media is powerful. It's fast, lightening's wide reaching...and that scares us. You can be anyone or anything that you want, online...and to a largely cynical mindframe, that means something bad.

Social media is the ultimate crowd sourcing tool. Need a mob? It's on standby.

...but these kids? The ones who are growing up in it? They are so adept at using it...and so quick to channel everything that they have got into it...we immediately assume and worry that they will use it for bad...

...and then push came to shove. And they harnessed that power into making it do something good.

There are some bad eggs out there, sure. There always have been and there always *will* be, I am afraid. Nobody's parenting is *perfect*...but I can't believe, even for a second, that it's all *bad*. Are we all just mucking it up, all of the time? Really? Every parent that I know gives a shit. Every parent that I know wants not only the best for their child, but for their child to be a good person.

 If that is what we all want...if that is what we are all working towards...why do we automatically assume that we are falling down on that job? Have a little faith in the job we are doing. Give a little credit where it's due.

And give our kids a chance, to show us how much they have learned. They might just teach us a thing or two.

*Name changed for the privacy of the family.

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