2022: No Grinches Allowed
By Allan Shedlin
Grampsy and Founding DADvocate, DADvocacy Consulting Group
As we limp to the end of 2021 – a whiplash of a year – we have a sense that the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge are working on a global scale to steal our hopes and dampen, flood, burn, melt, and pummel our spirits.
During more than a half-century of working with children and youth, I’ve never had to work harder to maintain the sense of optimism that children tend to engender. The often harsh reality of our times feels like it is in a pitched battle with the generally hopeful and positive attitude intrinsic to most children and youth.
As we work to make hope ascendant to begin the New Year, following a year during which the word "unprecedented" feels redundant – like an understatement – it is helpful to examine the things we have the most control over.
If there is one good thing that emerges from a year in which the earth seems to wobble less steadily on its axis [a year in which our ancient ancestors might have exclaimed, "The gods are angry"], it is that a number of us have begun to realize what is truly important; what really matters.
As the promise of regular travel to outer space becomes more feasible, the need for inner space travel becomes more necessary. Both are important, but we best attend to our inner space as a prerequisite. We must have the courage to go within ourselves and our families.
If there is one good thing that emerges from a year in which the earth seems to wobble less steadily on its axis [a year in which our ancient ancestors might have exclaimed, "The gods are angry"], it is that a number of us have begun to realize what is truly important; what really matters. We have come face-to-face with fundamental questions like:
What truly matters to me?
What is within my purview of control and what isn’t?
What is fact and what isn't?
How we answer these questions for ourselves will make all the difference.
As we summon the strength to go within, we might summon a childlike courage and ask, "Why can’t we get our act together?" Let the youthful voice that tells it like it is come forth to exclaim, "We can’t blow this. We need to get a grip!"
As we look to our individual and collective future, enmity and amity are in a pitched battle, kindness and hostility fight for ascendance, nationalism gains ground as a recognition of our interdependence is most needed, and the cumulative wisdom of scientific achievement seems to be losing ground to our baser aggressive and warring instincts. As both Scrooge and the Grinch came to realize that kindness serves us better than unkindness, let’s embrace these messages in Dr. Seuss’ original 1957 book, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas:
Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp...
And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!
As we begin 2022 during our third covidious year, "Let’s ring in a New Year with hope and good cheer," summon "the strength of 10 Grinches…plus two," and heed an enlightened Ebenezer Scrooge’s words: "If the courses are departed from, the ends will change."
Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, and five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019 he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D the most important “degree” of all.