Years ago, the last time I went skiing, I found myself at the top of a mountain in Colorado —at the head of a black diamond (for experts only) trail. I was on the wrong trail! My ski skills are barely good enough for the bunny slope. Needless to say, I was filled with terror. How in God’s name was I going to get down in one piece? To make matters worse, the sky had turned deep gray, a fog had rolled in and the temperature had dropped. A fellow student from the afternoon’s ski lesson was with me. She was twenty years younger and a lot better skier. The slope in front of me was a steep vertical drop, covered in ice. The flat area we stood on was only eight feet narrow, dropping thirty feet into a brush filled ravine on the left and a rocky stream bed on the right. With the next (occupied lift chair descending towards us, we had no choice but to push off the tiny landing pad.
I tried to remember every ski tip I had ever heard: bend knees, lean forward, tuck in elbows. I was terrified of both of my choices. If I lost control and sped to the left, I I could visualize myself landing in the tops of the spiny trees with limbs piercing my body. Or my other choice, to the right, and then falling into the creek bed & into the icy water. Flying along, on bumpy ice, the more I kept my eye on the ravine, the faster towards it I sped. As I approached the edge, my friend yelled, “Look over here!”. As soon as I turned, she reminded me, “You ski where you look. Remember?! Look straight ahead!” My path changed. I stared ahead at a woman in a full length mink & hat posing on the plateau down ahead of us. (It was one of those black ski events.) Anyway, guess where I “went”? And yes, she went down with me, fur a-flapping & cursing all the way.
Anyway, when I hear a mother saying to her three year old, “The police are gonna come get you” or “I’m calling the police on you” or “You’re gonna spend your life in jail”, it causes me to wonder if it narrows that child’s vision to some calamitous path. Does it steer that shape-ready genius, that each young child is, towards seeing themselves in the waiting criminal justice system. I know that the brain retains everything. Some things are kept right at the surface. Other ideas are stored in the unconscious. Think about other mothers, who play subliminal tapes to their sleeping children. Tapes that say “You are going to become a doctor” or “You will be a famous athlete”. The unconscious mind would store that, too.
If we ski where we look, as long as we maintain the “right form” to steady our balance, we can fly through the snow to a comfortable and exciting landing. It helps if we are on a safe trail and we’ve been taught the “right form” that we’ve been able to practice. In terms of skiing through life, and your kids envision their futures in the frames we parents shape for them, how easy would it be to steer our kids toward the positive? They’re going to have some target in mind. Why not say, “Hey, kids! Look over here” and show them how great their futures might be? Don’t push it. It can’t be your direct order or your threat. It has to be your excitement and optimism that sparks them to consider it – to put their eyes on it. If we show kids our confidence in the positive possibilities rather than the weakness of our fears, they will fall under the magic of simply skiing toward the future that they are keeping their eyes on.
Children who are bullied or who are bullies themselves may be at greater risk of becoming psychotic as adults. Psychosis usually occurs in the form of hearing voices, seeing things that no one else can see and many other alterations in reality caused by the brain malfunctioning. From a study done at the University of Warwick in the UK, researchers found that some children were almost 5 times more likely to suffer from psychotic episodes by the age of 18 if they were bullied. This increased percentage occurred even if other factors such as home environment or behavior problems were taken into account. It occurred at 4 and 1/2 times the normal rate if children were the bullies themselves.
Researchers found that there was increased risk of psychosis when the bullying happened for brief periods as well as when children were bullied over a prolonged period of time. Psychosis is often diagnosed as schizophrenia and/or paranoia. It is usually treated with medication. Some people experience psychosis only when under extreme stress. Some experience it chronically and for some it is not known what triggers their psychosis or when it may be triggered. There is some thought that increased tendency to psychosis occurs due to genetic factors, brain allergies, chemical exposure and/or vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diet.
This study highlights the importance of getting adults involved in preventing bullying of children and making sure your children are not bullies.
Source: University of Warwick (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/childhood_bullying_shown/)
We all watched in horror, the video of South Carolina school resources officer, Ben Fields, of the Richland County Sheriff’s office, as he flipped a black teen on her head and dragged her across a classroom floor as if she were a piece of trash. This because she began using her cell phone in a math class, against her teacher’s instruction.
This brings into question the kind of reality that a person in authority has in mind when a classroom disruption becomes criminal behavior requiring physical force. She did not have a weapon. She was not threatening anyone. She was not following directions in a way that is pretty typical of teen in the throes of hormonal flux or any child, for that matter. We can think of all sorts of reasons that she did not comply instantly. It seems that this lack of instant submission that police officers seem taught to expect is a central factor in many of the police abuse cases that have been in the news lately.
As we work hard to raise our children and get them to adulthood safely, the school should be the one reliable safe place. It should be the one place that understands children, how their minds work and how their behavior varies with their humanity. It is not so anymore. And it is especially not so for African American children. More……
“Crazy”….is what people feel when their reality doesn’t match that of the masses. “Crazy” is what many black folks have been made to feel upon entering the wider American culture. In many parts of the US, whites make blacks look and feel crazy because of their denial of racism.
“Between the World & Me” is a new, non-toxic, natural antidepressant. A balm of words, concocted by a master pharmacist of the black experience, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor at The Atlantic Monthly. Ta-Nehesi puts racism on a glass slide and puts the slide under a microscope that not only magnifies for dissection, the pathogen thereon, but allows one to verify the feeling caused by that pathogen.
This is a book that every mother, actually every black person, should read. It helps gel those streams of hurt, embarrassment, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness, reactive paranoia and as he points out, fear, that roll constantly off black people’s backs. In more solid form, one can more closely examine them and then toss them away. Or one can examine them, identify them and set up preventive barriers.