Day 110 (of 187) we don’t talk about “that” – inspired by the @ScottMillerBbl article on @mariners speedster @FlashGJr
First the article: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2820756
Secondly: I have been a Mariners fan for as long as I can recall – I wrote fan letters as a kid and even had a little shrine set up in my closet during baseball season – and though we lived in rural BC, because my mom grew up in Seattle we would regularly visit my grandparents there and each summer…. a trip to the kingdome – a tradition rekindled by my mom when my first daughter was born and we went (and continue to go) to a game – of course our first game with a 5 month old was an 18 inning marathon…. but we also made arrangements in our travel plans to get to games over the years that would let my kids run around the bases (only losing my son once – on jersey night….and of course I had called this problem in the third inning when security was asking me to describe him: 6 years old…Mariners cap…Ichiro jersey – just like 90% of the kids on the field….was it possible that the hat was distinctive sir?…yes – chrome on the brim….and my son did what he was supposed to do if he ever got lost: stopped and stayed where he was. So all ended very well)
Thirdly: we don’t like talking about this trauma inducing event that Dee experienced…and many of our learners experience… domestic abuse. And as a principal, I try to remain impartial and non-judgemental…try…. but…. well …. it’s tough as I was fortunate to grow up in a household that was non-violent – so this is a situation that I have a hard time understanding…I can be empathic, but while I have seen some tough things, this is an area I thankfully cannot put myself in the shoes of – and yet while we/I promote and encourage role models to talk about their mental wellness struggles – how the raised awareness of depression and anxiety and self – esteem and etc along with strategies on how to deal with these – the trauma of domestic abuse is definitely a “dirty little secret”
In sports, leagues are taking on this topic to varying levels of success – blending a balance of suspensions and fines … but it always seems to depend on how good the athlete is on the field as to how “the abuse” is explained….be it a whipping a kid with a switch that is “cultural” or an event captured on a security camera “that doesn’t tell the whole story” …. one in four women and one in seven men experience a form of severe physical abuse. one in four and one in seven. But when one sports team cuts an athlete for breaking a domestic abuse rule…so often another team is willing to sign them up for “a fresh start” – with or without counselling or other interventions in place if they think the player can put buts in seats and be drafted by fantasy sports General Managers. As Dee puts it so well:
“Can I say something that’s going to sound really messed up? The world sucks so bad that a guy will be in trouble for a few days and then people forget about it and pull for him again.
And this isn’t just with athletes and other celebrities – it can be with the parents and students we work with each day. Its relatively easy to see and react to physical impacts (bruises scars etc) but so much of the abuse is about power and control, and much like mental wellness in schools, if it’s not easy to see, it’s too easy to diminish. Victims are often reluctant or afraid to speak up and share. It’s not worth the repercussions that they may experience. After all, we’re at school now – it’s safe and we are all ready to learn.
Right. “Ready” – trauma influenced learning is so difficult … the conditions for learning have to be met before learning can take place. And we can’t see what happened in our students homes the night before…over night…early in the morning.
(and as a weird connection – Dee’s father is Tom Gordon – named by Stephen King in his book “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” – a girl who has to face her fears inspired by the heroics of this pitcher)
And we can look at Dee as a speedster infielder who could probably play centre field – who signed a great contract and has no worries. Right. “no worries” because money takes care of everything. He took the name “Dee” to remember his mother who was taken from him so early in life. He was not groomed to be a baseball star – i his neighbourhood it was about basketball. His family had to rally round to support him.
He gives back through his Flash of Hope initiative. Because he ‘gets it’. He lived it. He lives with it.
Don’t think domestic abuse is lasting? Dee’s mom was then from him when he was 7. When he signed his “big league contract” his first purchase wasn’t a house or fast car – it was a tombstone for his mom.
This dirty little secret needs to end. And a great time to start thinking about this is today because the @mariners first pre-season game is today. So practice being mindful about the domestic abuse you may be aware of and not saying something about… or the domestic abuse that is happening that you’re not aware of…there’s a reason why I don’t object to hoodies and hats in school – because nothing tells you somethings up like a hoodie pulled tight over a hat pulled down low… but it’s not going to be a quick and easy conversation. And look to help – even Major League Baseball has instated both proactive training programs as well as a confidential help line – for victims or those perpetrating the acts – confidentially so that is someone is struggling, they can be provided support to help stop the cycle of abuse….because they learned it somewhere… kids do what they see.
Practice now so you’re ready for the bigger conversations when opening day happens on March 20th. Who is kicking off the season? The Mariners of course. Seems appropriate. Let’s all help stop the cycles of domestic abuse. one conversation at a time.