It’s 5pm… and I have a drink. A stiff one. My favourite cocktail thanks to a fab friend – very kitsch, very 80’s… it’s Cointreau, Lime and soda, lots of ice…. If you haven’t tried it… you seriously should. Long and full of vitamin C… it is definitely medicinal.
It is a Friday so surely allowed? It’s a little earlier than my usual weekend drink… but today I think I deserve it! A hot bus for 4 hours with 45, noisy, squeally, excited 7 year olds… Their excitement infectious, but at points I wish I had ear plugs… It was a school trip to ‘The Deep’ in Hull…. A fab day trip out.
The drink is to try and relax my tense shoulders and neck… I was responsible for 6 children, 5 not my own, in the dark, who ran from one station to the next, muddling and mixing and darting into other pools of similar looking children… running up and down ramps, hiding behind pillars…. I didn’t lose any, I hearded them up multiple times and started to use the phrase ‘Team Mortimer’ and like little homing pigeons, they would come back.
What was interesting and intrigued and totally fascinated me today was how I could recognise many of the children by the traits they share with the parent that I have met. And not just their faces, bone structure, eyes or hair… but the way they spoke, the phrases they used, the mannerisms. Some parents would be so proud of their children.
It made me consider and reflect on the class discussions I had yesterday with my 15 ten year old girls. From totally different backgrounds, cultures, home lives and support networks from the children today. The topic yesterday, was about role models. What did they understand about the term? Who were their role models?
A role model, ‘a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated’.
We talked through many role models from Zoella (who I had not heard of before I few weeks ago, when my local friends with daughters provided me with some good ideas!), Princes Catherine, Jessica Ennis, Mary Berry, JK Rowling to Malala Yousafzai and many more. We discussed the values, behaviours and attitudes of these women, and men too (David Attenborough, Richard Branson) and put post it notes all over our class Role Model ‘Wendy’…
They wrote: kind, helpful, pretty, happy, strong, healthy, inspirational, passionate, committed, fashionable, smiley, believer, caring, listener, never gives up, motivated, creative, honest, giving, loving, generous and spoke the truth.
Once they knew the definition and characteristics of a role model, we asked who their role models were… answers were parents, grandparents, social workers, their class mates, their brothers, sisters and celebrities I had never heard the names of but who apparently were brilliant according to them, but whom I have subsequently found out have rather unsavoury sides..
So my question to myself – am I the type of role model that my son’s, my nieces, my goddaughters, these girls I stand in front of should imitate?
If we are present in the lives of others, especially those younger, more vulnerable than us, then we owe it to them to be that role model. Be the good person, the committed person, the optimist, the authentic, compassionate as well as passionate, courageous, abundant role model who speaks the truth, acts with kindess and in servitude.
We owe it to the generations to come to be the best versions of ourselves so that our children duplicate us… because they do you know! When you aren’t there, they speak the words you speak, their bodies mimic the way you stand, gesticulate and hold your head. They copy your confidence, your happiness just as much as your fears and tears…
Our behaviour is a silent signal to those around us… and if you are in a role of responsibility, whether that be parent, leader, CEO, boss, manager, bigger brother, sister, that means you. People do what you do, not what you say and especially so when you are not there…..
So am I Wendy? Are you Wendy? Can we ever be Wendy enough? Does Wendy exist in reality? Who knows…? but if we each strive to be like her, be a better person, commit to being a little better each week, then the ripple effect would be enormous and the world must surely benefit…
Cheers! My Cointreau is dry and I need another!