Each child is special and unique. Despite this, we often apply very linear rules of parenting and teaching to them. In doing this, we miss out on their brilliance and their ability to see through the lines into what is in between the lines. I have been working with a brilliant young woman for the past couple years, and she is one of the most special and unique teenagers I have ever met. She is creative, has always been left-of-center and not a "fit-in" girl. This is what makes her so special. In each of our meetings I am encouraging her to express her uniqueness and not to be afraid to be herself. She wrote me the following email, and I was blown away at the insight this young woman had at such a young age about how we teach our children "I" is more important than "you." Read the following essay written by 16-year-old Talia M.
In kindergarten, when I was still learning the alphabet and basic grammar and phonics and stuff, I got in a pretty heated argument with the teacher's aid, Mrs. Miller. They were trying to teach us about grammar, and I insisted that the words "You," "Me," "Him," "Her," and "They," were capitalized. She told me over and over that they were, in fact, lowercase, but I wasn't having any of that. They gave me red marks on my papers and made me write sentences over and over again but still, nope. Because those weren't the right ways to put a sentence together.
It just didn't make sense! I still don't understand. If the word "I" is capitalized, why isn't "me?" They mean the same thing! And what makes me so special? What about you? Are you not important enough to be capitalized? And him and her and they? Apparently not, because clearly Mrs. Miller was way too infatuated with herself to capitalize any of the other proper-noun substitutions!
Pronouns. They're called pronouns. Professional nouns? Do they specialize in people, places, things, and ideas? If so, they might have a degree from the University of Ignorance because not even one of those pronouns are capitalized, excluding "I."
So I took that knowledge home with me, and whenever I was mad at my sister, I would write out a little 6-year-old rant and lowercase her name, because at the time I deemed her not important enough to be capitalized and therefore temporarily demoted her name to a low-life pronoun.
Am I the only one who is concerned about this phenomenon? Like, we are teaching our kids, at an extremely early age, that "I" is more important than "you." But whenever I try to bring it up with a teacher, they think I'm being a smartass and get angry with me, and if I try to talk to a classmate about it, they look at me weird until it gets awkward and I have to say, "forget it" before dropping classes in the high school stratification system from "loser" to "weirdo."
It's been like 13 years and I still remember this event like its been carved into my brain or something. This is so stupid. I am genuinely concerned about it though. Again, we are teaching 4-year-olds that "I" is more important than "you." Change that one affirmative verb in there and you come up with "I" am more important than "you." Like what the heck!?
And people wonder why we are so full of ourselves. Come on, guys. Learn phonics.
We have an entitlement generation of kids who take much longer to leave the nest, are lazier than ever and feel that all they want should come quickly and easily. We are forgetting them, we are not hearing them and we are over-giving, under-expecting and they are underachieving. Our children need to be encouraged to be brave to be themselves, to dare greatly in their lives, to express themselves and to be different. We need to listen to them. We obviously aren't going to change the English language for one girl but I think we should all listen to her message. We are often teaching that "I" is more important than "you" and then we wonder why our children are entitled, underachieving and unhappy. This teacher could have nurtured such self-esteem and creativity in Talia and because Talia wasn't "correct" in her expression according to rules she was punished. I love her boldness to use language as she saw fit to express herself. That is what language is for.
Little life message: Encourage uniqueness, boldness and creativity in your children and recognize what they are trying to tell you about the world. This type of acknowledgement creates and nurtures genius.