Sasha found her voice this week.
Let me tell you how.
In the Burnaby School District, there is an annual event called "Primary Days of Music" where primary students from across the district come together to sing for an afternoon. All of the schools learn some songs in common and also prepare a few songs that just their school gets to perform for the rest of the students. The location of this rotates around the district so that each school gets a chance to host.
Sasha is in a grade 1/2 combined class this year. It's been a fabulous learning environment for her. It just so happened that this year, the Confederation Park grade ones were not going to be able to be included in the Primary Days of Music, however, because the grade twos were going to be going, the grade ones (including Sasha) learned all of the songs and prepared for it because they share a music class together.
As the day for Primary Days of Music approached, Sasha would share her frustration and sadness about not being able to participate or take the bus to the neighboring school. She didn't think it was fair. This generated lots of discussions revolving around how life just isn't fair, plain and simple. When the day finally arrived, Sasha was so downtrodden. Many tears were shed about this "injustice" and lots of anger brimmed to the surface too. After using all of my parental tools to talk her down, she just wouldn't let go of her offence. I told her that the only way to put an end to her feelings of being slighted was to talk to Mrs. Ishii, her music teacher, about it. "Holding on to offense just makes you miserable", I told her. Sasha didn't think she could do that, but she did think she could write Mrs. Ishii a letter describing how she felt.
So Sasha took pencil to paper and composed this.
She carefully folded it up, put it in an envelope and delivered it to the office for the secretary to put into Mrs. Ishii's mailbox first thing yesterday morning.
In the afternoon, Sasha's backpack contained an envelope adorned with a sticker and her name. It was sealed up. She opened it up and began to read the thoughtful and sensitive response from Mrs. Ishii. It explained that District policy and funding for buses couldn't accommodate the grade ones being part of Primary Days of Music this year. It explained the process and Mrs. Ishii's feelings about it. And best of all, it said this,
"Thanks again for expressing your voice.
It is always important to speak your mind."
I could not have wished for a more powerful statement for Mrs. Ishii to have ended her letter with.
When Sasha finished reading the letter she folded it up and carefully put it back into the envelope. She said the reasons Mrs. Ishii gave made sense to her. But more important, you could see a sense of relief and peace come over her.
She had been heard.
She had been listened to.
Her voice mattered.
As we chatted about it later in the day, I reminded her that she won't always get a response when she speaks her voice. She won't always hear what she thinks she is entitled to. The answers won't always make sense. But even then, I said, know your voice. And make it sing.