Disclaimer: This title was not inspired by the fact that today’s blog square is blue. Okay, maybe it was. But only the teeniest, miniscule-ist, littlest bit! 🙂
We have got to stop apologizing for when we cry. This is a hill that I have stood on and will continue to shout from the rooftops for all those willing to hear. It’s also a much needed reminder for myself, but we’ll get there in a minute…. From my perspective, crying allows release, like a long awaited coming-up-for-air. All of that pent up emotion that’s been sitting in your body like the dust dredges in a vacuum – who wants to sit with that discomfort whirling around? I always feel better after I’ve had a good cry. So, why are we apologizing for it? Does the vulnerability frighten us that much? Are we trying to avoid the look of an ‘ugly crying’ meme on the Internet? Are we so concerned with other peoples’ comfort at the expense of our own catharsis? Are we worried about the poor normative of feeling weak?
This past week, I had conversations with two of my students that had to steer towards redirecting some tricky behaviors. Now, I’ve always believed that when having these types of conversations, it’s important to focus on the why rather than the who. That’s also when the tears typically begin to flow. And I kid you not, the MOMENT the red rim eyes took form, both students quickly said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I actively wanted to scream, “No, I’m sorry! What norms am I helping to perpetuate in our school that you feel the need to apologize when you cry?” I had an immediate flashback to a moment not even 12 hours prior, after a horrifically bad day, where I charged into the Apple Store (of course) determined to keep a neutral look on my face after previously losing it in my car as my phone shut down. If children are already apologizing for tears at ten years old, then how can they truly build empathy, display gratitude, or cope with loss?
Did I then immediately scour Amazon to purchase picture book Mighty May Won’t Cry Today by Kendra Ocampo and Claire-Voe Ocampo for my classroom library? Yes, I did. This is a not-to-be-missed story about a girl named May who learns it’s okay to cry on her first day of school. Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s middle grade books are venerated for their realism, and Shouting at the Rain is no exception. Delsie and Ronan find each other within a swirl of commensurate anger, loneliness, and sadness. Holly Bourne’s title The Places I’ve Cried in Public is a YA must read, as Amelie strolls down memory lane to the places her boyfriend… yup, made her cry. That will help her get over him, right? Finally, It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) is a real punch to the gut as Nora and Aaron allow us permission to feel all of our feelings beside the hospital bed where their marriage lived.