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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Well, You Can Teach Them...

First, read this. I did. And I agree with it, just like I do Fulgham's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Basic principles on how to live and be polite and respectful and all of that jazz. Okay, great. And I have taught my son. (The big one, that is, as the little one is too small for these lessons.) But where the author of this left off is what in the hell a mother (or father) is to do when the child has learned these lessons, and can show through example on how he has retained the lessons, yet still has times when he refuses to exhibit the behaviors.
Evan was sent home with a behavior notice today. For spitting on someone. Gross. Grossest of gross. I could have killed him. Seriously, y'all. In fact, I am really glad I have to work tonight because I still want to kill him and work will get me out of the house and away from the temptation to follow through.

(No, I'm not really going to kill him, so put down the phone.)

But once I read this, on today of all days, I started to think about it. We assume that when we see a child acting up, it is all about the parents. The parents must be horrible people without enough self-discipline and self-respect to be examples for their children. I've done it before. I'm sure that if you think about it, you have too. You see the horrible kid out in public who acts crazy or rude and you immediately think, "oh that brat...", immediately followed by a sort of pity that he or she probably has parents who couldn't give two shits about how the kid behaves or whether they grow to be respectable adults or whether they will grow up to shoot their classmates.

Some of us parents of those brats really do care. And worry incessantly. And repeat unspoken rules of ettiquette, as seen on this list, until we think it is the only convo we are even capable of having.

I studied quantum physics. I can list all of the carbon-ring conformations of organic chemistry. I can quote Shakespeare and churn out an 18-page graduate-level paper in a few hours and get an A. But what comes out of my mouth more than anything?

"Evan, quit raising your voice inside."

"Don't stare. It's rude."

"Why would you call your classmate a name, Evan? That's mean."

"Evan! Quit picking your nose!"

"What do say? Please? Thank you!"

And now the new one on the list: "Don't SPIT on PEOPLE!!!!!"

If raising Evan has taught me anything at all, it is that appearances are not always what they seem. That kid misbehaving in the grocery store could have a horrible mother who refuses to teach him anything. She could leave him to fend for himself while she is out turning tricks for crack. Who knows? Or she could be the nice, hard-working, quasi-educated and degree-holding healthcare professional next door who is at the end of her rope and out of options, short of beating the living crap out of the kid, which is far from legal. The kid could be adorable and loveable and gifted and be using bad behavior to get the tired, educated, healthcare-professional mother to buy a toy he wants because she is too tired to stick to her guns this time and wants more than anything to avoid causing a bigger scene than the one being caused by the rude kid. (And the tired mother could be so tired that she couldn't give a damn about run-on sentences in her blog, either.)

Just because kids don't show that they have manners does not mean that the parents haven't taught them. Or that the kid doesn't know them. Just sayin'.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah.

    Luke spit on his brother JUST THIS WEEKEND. Makes me so proud.

    We can teach them and teach them and teach them. . .but many times, manners won't really come until maturity, when they have the power to control their impulse.

    Like the irresistable impulse to spit at your brother.