A few days ago, I took my little one to a kids’ area at one of the best sporting clubs in New Cairo. To my shock, I heard a disturbing conversation between a five-year-old boy and a girl. The girl was playing when the boy came and asked her if they could play together. The boy obviously spoke in Arabic. “If you want to play with me, speak in English,” the girl replied. The boy seemed hesitant and tried to repeat his words in English. She mocked his accent and refused to play with him.
He left and went to talk to his mother. Both looked uncomfortable and anxious. A couple of minutes later, he went back to the girl asking her the same question in a grammatically-correct phrase. Finally, the girl agreed to play with him. However, she pointed out that he should tell his parents to send him to a good school like her to improve his English accent.
Our children shouldn’t fit in
Until this very moment, I can’t believe I heard this conversation in a playing area between two -supposedly- innocent children. Throwback to the time when kids’ biggest conflict was waiting for their turns in games. Is this becoming the norm in elite societies?
We resort to such places for a good-quality service and we don’t expect the price to be our children’s peace of mind when they don’t fit in. It’s heartbreaking to see a child making such ab effort just for another child’s approval so they can play together. It’s provocative to imagine the embarrassment this boy felt and how this would affect his self-confidence.
As for the mother’s reaction, I didn’t hear what she told her son. However, I can imagine how she felt when her 5-year-old child was shamed for his English accent and school. If I were in her shoes, I would tell my child to never accept mockery. Kids need to understand that respect and social approval are not earned by fancy brands or cars.
Being the devil’s advocate
You might find the girl arrogant and spoiled; however, I don’t want to demonize her. At the end of the day, she’s a child and how she reacts in situations can not be spontaneous. I guess no child, at this age, understands the difference between schools and social classes. This is definitely a reflection of what she hears at home.
Let’s face it, our children’s communities became very materialistic. From the brands they wear to the schools they go to, it all became a social statement. There is a big difference between providing a high standard of living to our children and raising them to be classists. We must teach our children that bullying is more than just hitting. You can break a child’s heart with harsh words.
To every parent out there, remember that you can’t teach your child to be kind, you can only lead by example. It’s meaningless to run anti-bullying campaigns in schools every year when children are taught at home how to shame others. Begin with yourself. Be the light.
- How to raise an ‘untitled’ and modest rich kid
- Egyptian moms confess: I’m embarrassed by my kids’ cheap school
- #Saynotobullying: What to do if your child is being bullied