I'm watching this awesome TV show called "If You Really Knew Me" which has a service/support team go into schools in crisis and has the kids share the stuff they never get to say to anyone. The kids share in small groups and to each other what it's really like to be them. The homecoming queen who was teased and insulted and told she didn't deserve to win. The class clown who can't remember the last time he saw his homeless mom, and watched his caretaker Grandma die. Reconciliation, realisation, recognition.
During a 'Challenge Day', the students meet in the gym and are called forward to 'cross the line' if they've been bullied, if they are or are close to someone who's gay, if they don't remember or aren't living with their parents - they numbers who cross are supported and encouraged by those who can now see them as more than their labels. And the numbers are surprisingly vast. Most moving for me, they asked kids to cross the line if they'd had the chance to really be a kid when they were little, to play, and laugh and be worry free. A surprising number of students couldn't cross the line, and that was perhaps the most heart-breaking moment - to have a whole row of 17 and 18 year olds who had never gotten to be kids. And to have all the kids who did have that chance look back across at them and really see each other for once.
I realise, while watching, that this is not a habit only of teenagers. How often do we as adults fail to see each other as people, to judge without wondering about what the impact is on the other person. Or fail to share what's really going on for us that might make a difference in what's going on for them.
And of course I can't help thinking what difference might it have made for the BBs if someone in their schools had seen them as something more than the labels they were saddled with. Would they have felt more welcome? More free to be themselves? Would they have been more willing to ask for what the needed from their friends and the teachers? Would the teachers have seen them as worth the effort?
Yep, it's an MTV show for kids. And I love it.