Tea Kits That Teach

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Wonderful Wizard of OZ
by Joann Siegel, Founder
Storybook Tea Kit Company®

It continues to amaze me how our culture looks upon bullying as a rite-of-passage. It is not. It is terrorism at our earliest form of social interaction. Schools obviously teach Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. But children need equal amounts of emotional education, which includes empathy, integrity, kindness, honesty, perseverance, and courage. These are the all building blocks for emotional strength. They also help in developing a child’s moral compass and moral virtues. I was a child who was bullied, and from those sad school days, I learned very well the Four Bees of Bullying:

  • The Bully who terrorizes.
  • The Bullied kids who are afraid to tell.
  • The Bystanders who watch and are passive, letting the bullying continue. (This includes adults who see the incidents as a normal part of childhood, or as a rite-of-passage.)
  • The Buddy who pledges against those who are bullied and comes to their defense when bullied.

As a child who was bullied, I found refuge in the school library and in books. Here my pain was forgotten as I became the protagonist in the story. I also began to look at the characters in each story and where their moral compass was. Were they the Bully or the Bullied? The Bystander or the Buddy?

I then began to categorize the types of bullying. Now, as an adult, I can look back and place them into three basic headings:

  • Physical Bullying is the most obvious form of intimidation and can consist of kicking, hitting, biting, pinching, hair pulling, and making threats.
  • Verbal Bullying often accompanies physical behavior. This can include name calling, spreading rumors, torment, threats, harassment, humiliation, embarrassment and persistent teasing.
  • Emotional Intimidation is closely related to these two types of bullying. A bully may deliberately exclude you from a group activity such as a party or school outing.

When I created Storybook Tea Kit Company®, its mission was to do more than create a tea party in a book. I wanted the Tea Kits to teach the moral virtues of respect, compassion, kindness, and friendship. I wanted children to learn how they could end bullying and build character.

People often ask me, “What four Bees of Bullying are in Alice’s Adventures of Wonderland?” I open Chapter Seven, A Mad Tea-Party. Within those first few passages are examples of each type of bullying, including Alice as the Bystander.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Passages from Chapter VII A Mad Tea-Party

PHYSICAL BULLYING

Touching  

  • “Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it”
  • “…being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went on”
  • “…the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.”

Threats

  • “The Queen jumped up and bawled out ‘He’s murdering the time! Off with his head!’”

EMOTIONAL INTIMIDATON

Exclusion

  • “`No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming.”

It is inclusion rather than exclusion that Storybook Tea Kit Company® teaches children by having a “pawfect” tea-party. A mad Tea Party demonstrates behaviors that emotionally pain children. A “pawfect” tea-party embraces inclusion for every child, where joy is felt throughout and empathy is learned.

VERBAL BULLYING

Teasing

  • “`Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all ‘round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked. `There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.”
  • “`Your hair wants cutting,’ said the Hatter.”

Bystander (Alice) The 3rd Bee of Bullying

  • “`Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’”
  • “The last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.”

Though Alice was able to identify that “It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!” she walked away as a Bystander and did not come to Dormouse’s defense when she watched Hatter and March Hare putting Dormouse into the teapot!

The Wonderful Wizard of OZ helps each child understand the final BEE of Bullying. It’s the Buddy, the 4th Bee, which is the most difficult to BEE. To sign a pledge to BEE a Buddy, not a Bully, requires courage in the face of fear – just like the Cowardly Lion acquired. It requires a heart, but it also requires the empathy to actually feel for the one hurting – like the Tin Woodman felt empathy for Dorothy. It requires experience – for without experience, one’s decisions can be foolish – just as the Scarecrow learned. And it requires that certain something that makes one feel safe. For Dorothy, it was the loving environment that Aunt Em provided.

For the Buddy, their role is to persevere, to keep the school environment absent from those who bully. Just as Alice and Dorothy had obstacles, they persevered to find their way home. So must a Buddy persevere against those who Bully.