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We don’t want them to cry

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Recently I asked why my son wasn’t allowed to bring his Pokemon cards to school.
Well, he is allowed to bring them for sharing, but not for recess or trading. This all goes along with some rule about not bringing toys outside for recess.
I kind of understand the whole toys at recess, but I am really struggling with trading cards. In my mind I am picturing little boys huddled together in some corner of the playground in intense conversation, practicing hard-core negotiating skills.
In picturing this scenario, the boys in question are wearing black shoes and little caps and shirts with buttons. It’s so Norman Rockwell.
So, let’s talk about Norman Rockwell for a second. When I think of Norman Rockwell paintings, I think of America and specifically the American Family.
I think of this wholesome goodness that goes with oatmeal and Thanksgiving Dinner and how it makes me all warm and happy inside.
So, let’s go back to the schoolyard scene.
In my mind there is a wholesome boyish goodness in boys off in a corner trading cards … any cards, pokemon, digimon, bakugan, ninjago, or even baseball.
So, I am picturing a fulfilling and harmless activity that my son could be engaged in, but that has been banned.
I asked the principal of the school the reasoning behind the rule. I am thinking there must be some really good reason because I can’t get the Norman Rockwell painting out of my head.
So, I email and ask and I get a response, “We don’t want them to cry.”
This is what it boils down to. We don’t want them to cry? Are you freaking kidding me? We don’t want tears at school.
We don’t want our kids to have emotions. We don’t want them to feel negative feelings. That’s what’s going on here. So, we want to protect them. I get it. We want to protect our kids.
As parents we protect our kids. As teachers we protect them from stuff, too.
But how far do we need to go to protect them? There are so many life lessons to be learned and our kids need to get going on these lessons.
Trading cards, here are a few lessons that can be learned: You may not get what you want.
You may change your mind after you’ve traded and the other kid won’t give it back, if you gloat you might get hit or worse, you might lose a friend.
You might be disappointed. You might make a mistake. You might walk away with less. So, with these hard lessons you might cry, get mad, smack your friend, throw your cards, and get in big fat hairy trouble.
And, if you are lucky enough to have adults that understand the value of all these lessons and help you to figure out what you could have done differently, then you may be a better trader next time.
Can you imagine those trading guys on Wall Street if they had never had a chance to learn these lessons? What if we kept our kids from crying?
What if we made sure they never encountered difficulties? What happens when they do get to high school or middle school or college and they are suddenly experiencing really real-life difficult times?
Don’t you want them to have the skills necessary to cope? I do. I want my kids to be able to cope with life. Life comes at you in all sorts of ways. I want my kids to learn to deal with it.
All I am trying to say is that at some point we need to let go.
We need to let our kids have the freedom to screw up.
If they have a chance to learn life’s lessons on a small scale, then the bigger lessons may be easier to deal with later in life.

Christine Bernstein
Los Alamos columnist