Nice is Overrated
Yup, I said it. Nice is overrated.
Our kid’s elementary school is right down the street from the house so I always glance at the sign facing the street as I pass each day. The school changes the message every other week or so.
Few words can describe what I felt when I passed by recently. Dismay. Concern. Worry. Frustration.
The sign had four words on it, spaced intentionally for impact:
Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait.
Are you shaking your head yet? You should be. The school typically uses that sign space to put up motivational quotes, district happenings, fundraiser shout-outs, whatever… the same kind of things you’ll see in front of most schools.
I have two issues with this.
First of all, I’m fine with the kids being taught not to bully. That’s great. . . until the verb “bully” becomes an antonym for “nice”. Maybe that’s why, in the last few years, just about everything is considered bullying?
Kid A says “I don’t want to sit next to you because you smell” to kid B and that’s bullying. Used to be, either it was young children and kid A was being a brat or it was a slightly older child and kid A was being honest that kid B had a body odor problem. Now schools and parents are calling it bullying.
If kid A calls kid B a name because kid B is being annoying, that is not bullying.
I recently heard a mother call into a radio show I listen to and complain that her daughter was being bullied by some girls at school. The girls were calling her daughter ‘nobody’. They would say “Here comes nobody” or “Hi nobody”. Is this behavior ‘nice’? No, obviously it’s not, but how are kids ever going to grow up to be confident if we immediately label any unpleasantness as bullying and the authorities step in to handle it. That sends the message to a child that he or she is incompetent and can’t handle simple disagreements on their own. How do kids learn to stand up for themselves in this kind of environment?
Secondly, when did ‘nice’ become such an esteemed quality of someone’s character? I can think of dozens of characteristics that I seek to instill in our twelve-year-old way before ‘nice’. How about honest? Charitable? Self-reliant? Loving? Honorable? Genuine? Courageous? Ethical? Polite? Respectable? Sincere? Dependable?
Nice is way down the list. . .
Do you agree with the “Don’t Bully, Be Nice” sign?