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Wisdom beyond their years

By Sister Patrice Colletti, SDS

Kids watch a lot of TV. And often it is on in the background, all day long.

This morning, during Reading Meeting, one of my kids (8-, 9- and 10-year-olds) asked about the situation in Washington, DC. He wanted to know why there was so many angry people.

We talked about the fact that angry and upset adults sometimes don’t choose an appropriate way to express their anger, and that it’s okay to have anger, but we need to “use our words” and avoid hurting others even if we are very, very upset or mad. 

Kimamana (her name means “Butterfly” in Dakota) is usually an introspective participant in our class discussions who tends to think a lot before she adds to whatever we’re talking about. She said, “First, my grandmother gets COVID. Then, we can’t go to school. Then police keep killing people. Now, grownups are being bullies with guns. Do you think it’s going to get worse?”

Followed by Ihanbda worrying, “Are they going to come to here like the COVID did?”

Ihanbda then added, “My dad said they put bombs out there, too. I live way out in the country. Do you think the bombs will come out here?”


We do talk about bullying a lot, and about how to handle our “big emotions” in ways that can help us and don’t hurt others. That’s just part of life as a third- or fourth- grader. My students almost all have video games in which they “bomb” and “shoot” other players, so I’m sure they have some graphic images in their heads. Plus, there’s no shortness of violence on TV and even in real life out here.

It’s good I could affirm that “they” are not going to come here “like the COVID did”… and that the bombs are not coming here either. 

Still, it’s sad to have to remind kids that sometimes (often, if you watch a lot of TV), adults have not yet learned to deal with feeling mad or sad in ways that don’t hurt others. Elementary school teachers tend to talk to students a lot about how to be a “good problem solver,” in part because these kids often find themselves dealing with problems that kids shouldn’t have to deal with. So, we also spent time talking about how the problem of bullying and being unable to manage feelings of anger without hurting others could be solved. I am tempted to send my students’ suggestions to our federal legislators:

  • They should just cut it out.
  • Their kunsi (grandma) should send them to their room to think about it.
  • Maybe they should hit a pillow when they get real mad. That’s what my mom said to do.
  • If you gotta’ break stuff, just go behind the garage and throw some rocks into the woods because nobody gets shot then.
  • He (President Trump) should talk to my auntie because she can help him stop (bullying).
  • They shouldn’t do stuff that breaks fences and windows. Just get a drink of water and go lay down for a while.
  • Maybe they (the crowds of angry people) were having a bad day … they gotta’ get a big breath and start over again.
  • They should always wear a mask. (She had noticed that the people in the angry crowds were not masked.)
  • I would tell them to try to talk it out and maybe their grandpa or grandma can help them get over it with talking. 
  • They (the Capitol Police) should get a no hitting and no bullying sign. And, tell them (the crowds) to stop it.
  • I think the president should go live with someone else for a while until he learns how to do ohoda (respect). And he can bring all his friends with him to learn too.

You know what? I think I will send these in a note to our Congressmen and Senators. It can’t hurt.

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