Category Archives: Anti-bullying

Free to Be You and Me – a Bold Gender Equality Kids Album from my Childhood

Free to Be You and MeThe upbeat rhythm and big melody of the opening number stay with me from the days of my mom filling the house with these tunes and skits on the family turntable. So much so that I’m preparing to perform my own cover of that title song “Free to Be You and Me.” The excitement of liberation is electric in this song and deserves to be heard by a new generation of young listeners.

Here’s my cover of the song as a solo acoustic performance on YouTube:

In the 70s, kids needed to be freed from gender stereotypes. A boy who wanted to practice nurturing on a baby doll. A princess who insists with her father the king on her right to marry who she wants, if she wants. A poet who tells kids and parents not to believe the hype about the smiling lady on TV washing dishes with the latest and greatest detergent, but rather, to share in the housework as a family and get it over with because everybody hates housework.

William wants a doll - Free to Be You and MeI’m now a little girl’s daddy with a heart full of memories of bottle feedings, burping, diaper changing and bathing as bonding time with our baby. Flash forward three years and I’m painting my young one’s fingernails pink and purple. In turn, she’s equally comfortable dressing up Barbie dolls and pushing the lawnmower with me. I live in a time, place and family where gender equality is a living success story. Not everybody does, but it’s my normal reality.

Listening to that landmark album today brings up ways in which it participated in social changes that paved the way for my free thinking about gender equality. The energy of that opening number brings up thoughts to the freedom kids may need help experiencing these days. They need to be free to be kids, to have honest-to-goodness, unstructured, unscheduled outdoor physical play time. They need freedom from dependence on video games and gadgets to mitigate boredom.

Kids still need freedom from the fear of bullying, both in person and online. Skits like “Dudley and the Principle” paired with “It’s All Right to Cry” sung by uber-masculine football/action hero Roosevelt Grier can still be a welcome source of comfort to a child caught up in a vicious cycle of feeling persecuted, crying and then being persecuted for crying.

Fun fact: I played Dudley in a middle school production of “Free to be You and Me.” it was my job to cry over being held after school for a sand table I didn’t knock down.

Here’s a TV interview with creator Marlo Thomas about this special project she created, where she discusses why she and her friends felt the album needed to be made, and about the challenges she had in convincing TV producers to include “William Wants a Doll” in the special broadcast based on the album. Producers feared the potential emasculating effects of publicizing a message that it’s OK for boys to play with dolls.

Check out this lively and enjoyable classic kids’ album “Free to Be You and Me” on iTunes.

What are the important songs from your childhood that influenced the person you are today? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Everyone’s Invited – An Interview on Goober Kids Radio!

Goober Kids RadioThe current episode of Goober Kids Radio with Trevor is entirely dedicated to an interview with me about the Jungle Gym Jam, our new album, and how we got started and what inspires us. I give some acoustic performances and Trevor spins some of our tracks.

At age 13, Trevor is a highly skilled radio host, multimedia wiz (He designed the opening title animation and closing credits for the Cool Rockin’ Daddy Video Show!) and kindie rocker in his own right with The Zing Zangs. He actively engages the kindie community doing Skype chats to collaborate on songwriting and ideas to advance public awareness and excitement about music for kids and families.

Win mechandise from the Jungle Gym Jam store!Trevor’s also doing a giveaway of our CD along with other merchandise from our store! Check out the Goober Kids Radio Contests page for a chance to win the album, a tie-dye T-shirt, beach ball and tambourine in a gift basket.

You can also subscribe to the Goober Kids Radio podcast on Apple iTunes.

This Little Light of Mine – A Special Video Announcement and Sneak Preview

As we gear up to perform at the Little V.I.P. Concert Series at the Crossroads in Garwood, NJ, starring Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, here’s a video message from Yours Truly, along with an acoustic performance of “This Little Light of Mine,” with a special anti-bullying message added to the lyrics.

Let us and your friends know you’re coming! Check this event out on our Facebook page.

And bring an unopened toy for Toys for Tots. You’ll get a raffle ticket!

You’re Really Not Alone

An anti-bullying poem by Jason Didner

You're Really Not Alone

You’re really not alone
No matter what you’ve been put through
You will find kind-hearted souls around
Who’ll share themselves with you

Although you may be reeling
From a rumor going around
And you feel a sinking feeling
Like a true friend can’t be found

How do you start all over
When you feel beat-up and ill?
You can seek new friends by kindness
Before looks or sporting skills

Some kids are understanding
Because they’ve been bullied too
And other kids just love to help
It’s what they naturally do

You may find them in peer counseling
To help you through your pain
To tell you how they made it
Through their loneliness and shame

You’ll find out whose behavior
Shows they know their right from wrong
With these kids you’re safest
You can feel like you belong

You’ll stop seeking approval
From those who treat you mean
When you’re busy being a good friend
In your new, happier scene

Until then you have someone
Rooting for you every day
If not around the corner
Then at least from far away

I may have never met you
But you can trust I care
Whether you get through it
Or you give in to despair

You’re really not alone
Just give yourself a chance to see
Until kind souls are by your side
Please at least reach out to me!

© 2013 by Jason Didner, All Rights Reserved

When Do You Tell a Grown-up?

An anti-bullying poem by Jason Didner

When do you tell a grown-up?

When do you tell a grown-up
Of something that’s not right?
Is it really tattling
If you can stop a fight?

A tattle-tale can’t wait to tell
Of picky little things
Like Josh’s messy desk
Or Emma’s loose binder rings

Young heroes tell their grown-ups
Of big things they come across
Of kids on playgrounds and online
Causing fear and pain and loss

It takes courage to put what’s right
Before what other kids might say
The rewards are so much greater
Like a safer place to play

A place where kids trust other kids
To always have their backs
And bullies know their hurtful games
Will be stopped in their tracks

Then some bullies won’t be bullies
They’ll learn a better way
To treat their fellow youngsters
As they go about their day

And those who cling to bullying
To deal with what’s inside
No matter what the grown-ups do
No matter how they try

They’ll be without an audience
To cheer on their bad acts
Their power will be less and less
You’ll get your safety back

A code of silence only makes
A scary place to be
Where only the aggressive kids
Feel comfortable and free

You’re not a snitch when you can save
A child from so much grief
Stomach aches every morning
Your act would bring relief

When all your friends will speak up
When they’re seeing something wrong
Your whole class will stand together
United, brave and strong

So when do you tell a grown-up
When’s the time to raise an alert?
Now you’ve learned it’s never tattling
When a child is being hurt