National Be Someone Special Day passed quietly this month (Wednesday) and almost didn’t get a passing mention.
You probably didn’t get your invitation to the party, but I pray you will take a moment — 10 seconds, really, to observe, embrace and make the difference.
Most of these national days that I encourage you to observe are unfamiliar, so trust me, if tomorrow comes, there will be other wacky and unusual things to celebrate, but this observance is important.
A group called Project Harmony created this opportunity for us to make a difference in the life of a child. Fortunately, this is something we all can do, and I pray we will.
According to the website, “Project Harmony founded National Be Someone Special Day to help end child abuse and bring communities together through education and awareness.”
There are children all around us — at church, the family reunion, school, the grocery store — they’re everywhere.
And in almost every place, we see things that make us uncomfortable, but we don’t always know how to handle the situation or how to intervene.
Being someone special means you don’t just squirm and awkwardly look away — you say something, you do something, you make the difference. Here are a few ways you can be special:
• See the children. Motivational speaker Simon T. Bailey shared during a session I attended years ago that as a Disney employee, he was required to see the children and make them feel important.
That meant stooping to their level and looking them in the eye. Trust me, at that vantage point, you see hurt, pain, hunger — everything.
If there’s anything more powerful than the laughter of happy children, it’s probably seeing a child whose heart has been shattered by emotional or physical abuse.
In many instances, we parent like we were parented and if that’s not scary, I don’t know what is.
If we were yelled at, cursed, beaten for the least little thing, we are much more likely to do the same thing, even though we know the harm it causes.
With COVID-caused economic conditions prompting parents to work longer hours and children raising and fending for themselves, neglect and hunger are real.
Add all these factors together and it’s easy to see how children need to be seen and heard.
• Secondly, listen and believe. Children are probably the most honest people I know, and if a child trusts you enough to share their hurt, believe them, investigate and pay attention.
• Thirdly, affirm the positive. One day I was shopping, and a young woman and her daughter were so beautifully enjoying their time together, I stopped to comment.
They were admiring the fabrics, the detailing and loving being together. I encouraged them to treasure their time, because little ones grow so quickly. The mother assured me this was their regular ritual.
Later at the grocery store, when I saw a child about to be snatched up and spanked, I commented to the mother how sweet and beautiful the child was.
My intrusion was meant to gently remind her that discipline during anger is never a good idea. It still isn’t.
But sometimes when little Johnny has worked our very last nerve — we only had one and he just danced all over it — it’s hard to remember how sweet and beautiful little people are.
But today I pray we will remember.
• Finally, be a significant other for a child. Mentor, love, talk to, befriend — all of the above. The dictionary may not say so, but this, too, spells special.
CYNTHIA A. BOND HOPSON, Ph.D., of Cordova is a native Tennessean, educator, author and mentor. She and her husband, Roger, lived in Paris twice. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook@drbondhopson.