Life

Compassion in the Midst of Bullying

I didn't get hurt.“Momma, don’t be mad at him, he doesn’t know any better.”

The words rang in my head like a banging cymbal. Thoughts of anger, sadness and complete confusion swirled in my mind. After what she had experienced, how could she say something like that? My wife silently stood watching and waiting as I struggled with these thoughts.

Well, I thought to myself she is better than I am that is for sure. She has more compassion in her little finger than I have in my whole body. As we talked more about the situation ultimately deciding to wait a few more days before making a final decision. After all she was only in kindergarten and despite the repeated occurrence of the little boy putting his hands on her neck and squeezing until in her words, she thought her eyes might pop out of her head, she seemed okay.

She was small and petite, one of the smallest in her class and an easy target for the bigger boys of the same age. To be taken out of school was not what she wanted as she had many friends and enjoyed her teachers. The school teachers aware of the incidents, were to keep a close eye on the little boy to make sure these types of things did not happen again. It was only two months before the summer break and it seemed she would be okay. However, a few weeks later she relayed another story that happened in gym class with the same boy.

“He came up behind me and picked me up and dropped me on my head.” She calmly stated to her mother, while holding her head at an angle because of the pain in her neck. Numerous trips to the chiropractor and the pain in her neck lessened with no long-term damage. However, the headaches continued and no amount of chiropractic adjustments helped because the stress remained.

We continued to struggle with the decision to pull her out of school or not with only a couple of weeks to go before summer. My wife was exploring homeschooling and seemed determined to convince me that next year this was the best option for our little girl. I remained unconvinced. Although, I would do anything to protect my little girl, I also wondered if this was something she needed to learn to deal with and not let the bullies win. I did not want my only daughter to believe that she was a victim and live her life not standing up for herself.

I picked her up from school one Friday afternoon, we buckled ourselves in and I started the car turning to look before backing out of the parking spot. Glancing in the rear view mirror at my beautiful blonde little girl I asked, “So, how was your day today honey?”

She smiled and looked back at me in the mirror and stated with a touch of joy in her voice, “Today was a good day Daddy, I didn’t get hurt.”

Before the words had died in the air my heart broke and I did not know how to respond. I could only muster a “That’s good, sweetie.”  Nothing about school, her friends or the fun that she had; no, the best part of my 5 year old’s day was that she did not get hurt. Are you f@$^&** kidding me I screamed in my mind!

Fighting back the tears I began slowly backing up the car and silently drove home. It was that night that my wife and I decided to get her through the last few weeks of this school year and to truly explore homeschooling for the next year when she entered first grade. After much research and many conversations with our little girl, as this would impact her also, we all decided to give homeschooling a try; never looking back.

Our daughter is now finishing fourth grade in some subjects and already into fifth and sixth grade level in others. She is thriving with a curriculum selected just for her; it is challenging and it allows her to move at her own pace. She is happy and involved in many other activities from horse riding, church youth groups, dance, soccer and baseball; not sheltered or un-socialized as some would have you believe all home schooled children are.

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The above story, based on true events, recalled as best they can and written in response to the #1000Speak theme Building from Bullying. Her experience has affected her. We still talk about it on occasion and how her perceptions are sometimes filtered through the pain she experienced. She has met others that are bullies, in organized events, even at church sponsored functions. This is unfortunately an all too often reality of the fallen world we live in. Maybe I am jaded but I believe we will always encounter bullies this side of the undiscovered.  Yet, we can not let ourselves become permanent victims and we can show compassion in the midst of the bullying.

This little girl has a heart that is more sensitive than anyone I have ever known. It will bring her pain and yet, it will also bring her great joys. You cannot have one without the other. She is my teacher and I am blessed beyond words because of her. Below is a poem she wrote in response to the 1000 Voices for Compassion movement.

Be kind to others in need.
Be kind and loving to others.
Even if they’re not kind and loving to you.
Have compassion for your sisters and brothers,
for God is waiting for you to be loving, just as He is.
For there will be people coming.
You will need to help these people.
Even if they’re not kind and loving to you.
For I tell you nothing is to small,
for it is simple enough to just have COMPASSION.

~Muppin ©2015, Age 10

Adventure, Animals, Art, Life

Where It All Began!

A ‘Throwback Thursday‘ picture of where my love for horses all began!

Circa 1970?   Mark Schutter ©2014
Circa 1970?    ~Mark Schutter ©2014

I could not really say if this was the very first time I rode a horse by myself, but it definitely was part of what started my journey and love for horses.  I believe this was taken around 1970 when I was 5 or 6, on my uncle’s ranch in central Washington state. (Someone correct me if I am wrong! :))

During my lifetime there has only been one short period of time when my family actually owned horses and this was when I was in high school.  My love for this amazing animal has never wavered.  I have always looked for opportunities to ride and be around horses.  From hunting and pack trips into the wilderness, beach rides and even climbing over fences to ride horses in a nearby field.  Yes, my friends and I got caught and got into trouble! I even started studying veterinary science in college, before turning to pursue my other passion, art.

If you browse my artwork here on the blog in the tab Art Gallery or on my Fine Art America site you will see the image of the horse as a recurring theme.  The challenge of capturing the essence, power, beauty and poetry of this animal I love so much continues to drive me, today.

I guess you could also say it has come full circle as my daughter is now pursing her dreams of horses.  She is taking riding lessons in the Hunter English style from Josie Gillespie of Gillespie Performance Horses. We currently rent a horse for her to ride named Taj Rico, but we just call him Rico.  Rico is the only registered Spanish Arabian all white pinto, and just a beautiful horse.

charis and rico 2The above picture is from Grace Unveiled, my wife’s blog, and her post Arabian’sabout our daughter’s riding. You can also see more pictures under her recent Thankful Thursdaypost.

Now, tell me what is your passion?

Adventure, Art, Life, Photograph

Where does happiness begin?

Being Happy (resize)≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Most folks are as happy

as they make up

their minds to be.

~Abraham Lincoln

Are you happy? If yes, tell me about it in the comments! If no, tell me why not?  Happiness is a choice!