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It is that time of year again … the Christmas movies of our youth pop up on television or DVD and remind us of our childhood. I recently had an encounter with an old favorite, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.” It was just as I remembered, but this time I saw it in a completely different way.
Rudolph turned out to be the hero in the end, just as I remembered, but he had to endure a whole lot of bullying to get there. Now maybe this connection was made because I spend time developing programs to teach young people how to overcome bullying. Maybe it is because bullying has become such a common occurrence these days that some would have us believe it is just a way of life. Doesn’t really matter why, the good news is the connection was made.
Rudolph was born different. Funny thing about that is we all are born different. We are told not one of us is created the same and we each have our own gifts and talents, so why do we spend an endless amount of time judging other people based on a norm that really should not/does not exist?
I know that is our nature, but it causes an awful lot of needless heartache for people. Kids are especially susceptible to this judging and it is raging out of control.
Rudolph endured some pretty classic bullying. He was told by everyone around him – even Santa – that he was different and therefore unacceptable.
The only exception was Clarice – the big-eyed doe who seemed rather smitten. Clarice, a single positive voice caught in a sea of negativity, seemed not to be enough support and Rudolph eventually went away so he didn’t have to endure the teasing and judgments any longer.
On his travels he met up with a few other misfits and realized the valuable lesson that while we all are different, our differences certainly do not make us unworthy.
There are an alarming number of kids today who would like to check out just like Rudolph did.
Escapism is nothing new and takes some more creative forms than before. This escape can manifest in drugs and alcohol, cutting, huffing, running away, truancy, dropping out of school and sometimes even suicide. No one wants to see our children feel the need to escape – it really isn’t a good answer and often brings on a whole host of additional problems.
There was a pivotal moment in the movie though, when Rudolph realized he had to go back. He had to stand up to whatever was happening and find his voice.
There was a pretty happy ending to the story of Rudolph, but unfortunately it might not be that easy for kids today. They need support, education and skills to stop the tormenting behavior that plagues so many.
If you have a child who you suspect or know is a victim of bullying, this movie would be a really good, non-threatening springboard for conversation about what they are going through. If you haven’t been sure how to bring it up, use the lessons from the movie to guide your conversation.
If you have a child who is being bullied, please do not ignore, patronize or chalk it up to kids just being kids. Please get involved and save your child from needless heartache.
If you think a different voice than your own would be helpful when assisting your child navigate through bullying, Speakers With Spark will be offering a special Hear My Voice session for youth ages 8 to 12 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Dec. 15 at Fiddlesticks Play Space and Studio in Cool Springs Center in Elizabethtown.
We actually will use the movie as a springboard for discussion while learning skills necessary to help kids who feel bullied to find their voice. Reservations are required because space is limited. The fee is $15 and reservations may be made by calling (270) 982-4422.
Rudolph is such a classic part of Christmas culture. He is our little hero who reminds us we are all valuable and worthy of respect not only at Christmas, but all the time. He teaches we each have a voice and finding that voice is important. He shows us the one thing that makes us different, might be the very thing that makes us special.
We at Speakers With Spark certainly believe you are special and hope you may be especially blessed during this beautiful season.