Katie explained to me about bullies and buckets the other day on our walk home from school. Katie's counselor was teaching her second-grade class social skills through the metaphor of everyone having a bucket. Let me have Katie explain it to you like she did to me:
"You see," Katie explained, "Everyone has a bucket. And your bucket gets filled when nice things happen to you."
"You can fill your own bucket by saying nice things to yourself like I am proud of that picture I drew today in art class or I am a really fast runner! Or other people can fill your bucket too. Other people can tell you nice things like you're a really nice friend or thanks for helping me get up when I fell down on the playground."
"And you can also empty your bucket. You can empty it yourself by saying mean things to yourself like I'm so stupid or I'm the slowest runner in the class. Or someone else can empty your bucket. Like bullies. Bullies empty your bucket when they bully you!"
When I asked Katie to explain to me what a bully is, this is what she said:
"A bully is someone whose bucket is so empty they try to empty other people's buckets by saying mean things to them like calling them bad names or shoving them around and being mean."
I was so impressed that she remembered the lesson well and could explain it to me. Then today I was blown away when, at the dinner table, out of nowhere, Katie said to me, "Hey Mom. Did you know that nobody can empty my bucket? Because I put a lid on it. I put straps on it. And a lock."
I admit, I'd been a tad concerned that this bucket lesson was going to over-emphasize our responsibilities toward other's feelings. I can try to fill someone's bucket up to the brim but it won't MAKE them feel happy. Trust me. I have many exes who will vouch for me on this one. But I never said anything about that to Katie.
I'm proud to see Katie taking responsibility for her bucket. But dang, we're social creatures. We do need each other to some degree. I asked her what if someone wants to fill her bucket. How will they get inside?
"I can let them in if I want them to, but it's my bucket."
Hells yeah, Punky!