Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Best Form of Birth Control

Here's an interesting article on population control. I'm not saying I totally agree with it, but I'm not saying I don't, either. It might be a good idea!

Of course, those of us who are teachers already know that the best form of birth control is, as they say, other people's children. I'm not just talking about emotionally disturbed children in the inner city, either!

At my church - which I love - there are a number of very active children. Sometimes they run around not looking where they're going and run right into me. This is kind of cute when they are two and three years old and not so cute when they are eight or ten years old. I have to stop myself from stopping them and saying something teacher-ish like, "You need to apologize if you run into someone," or "You wouldn't like it if I ran as fast as I could into you, would you?" The couple of times those things have accidentally come out of my mouth, their parents haven't seemed to appreciate it.

Before the church Christmas concert last week, the children in the choir were lining up, with their fancy clothes on and their hair all done nicely... and they were crazy. They were pushing and hitting and kicking and screaming. And this group was probably 2nd-5th grade or so. Old enough to know better. I don't know who was in charge of them outside the church, but they weren't there. Another teacher friend and I were talking about how crazy they were making us when a woman said to us, sort of disapproving-ish, "Oh, they're not hurting anyone!"

Right at that moment, I looked over and there was one little boy hitting another little boy in the stomach as hard as he could. Just socking him. The other little boy did not look like it was a fun game and had sort of fallen down on the ground. Not hurting anyone! Maybe I have an abnormally low tolerance for children acting like fools, as we say in the ghetto. That's one nice thing about inner-city kids - you can call them on their crap. If you look them in the eye and say (forcefully and directly) "That is NOT how your mama wants you to behave," or "What would your mama think if she saw you?" or just, "Are you really going to act like a fool?" in the right tone of voice, they respect it and stop. They start up again pretty quick, but at least they stop for a time. Middle-class kids tend to say something snotty like, "You're not my parent!" or "I can do whatever I want!" or everybody's favorite: "You're not the boss of me!"

Please, please, middle-class parents, don't let your children be those kids. And don't even get me started on the rich kids who see their nannies more than their parents. Give me ghetto thugs-in-training any day.

Another friend had to drag us away from the kids at church, because I was going to intervene with the punching kid and then some parent was going to get pissed because I was insinuating that her child wasn't perfect.

Don't get me wrong - I really do love my church and there are many many wonderful children and parents there. This seems to happen everywhere I go, not just at church.

My favorite story is when I was at a hamburger restaurant in a nice part of town, so it's kind of upscale for hamburgers. This child - who was about 7 or 8 - old enough to know better - pitched a huge temper tantrum. I don't know what it about. Her parents were ordering something to go and the child, who appeared to be possessed, kept reaching up for pens, flyers, desserts, menus, anything that was on the counter that she could get her hands on, and flinging them to the floor. I mean, all right, my friend's 13 month old does that, but she's at the correct age for that. That's not a disciplinary problem. This one was.

The best part was that her parents did nothing. They sort of smiled indulgently, like, "Oh, isn't she cute," and left everything on the floor. Finally, the girl reached for something breakable - I think it was a mug or a glass - and I took it out of her hand and said (nicely), "No, honey, that needs to stay on the counter." I put it just out of her reach. The cashier looked at me gratefully and appeared to have had her faith in humanity restored. The girl, however - AND HER PARENTS - looked at my like I had just killed a puppy. It was obvious that they could not have been more offended. They gave me the look of death all the way out the door.

This might sound crazy, but this is one of the things I miss about being a teacher. I would love to have that girl - it would be such a challenge. She would learn to behave. As I tell the children, "You can fight me all you want, but it's my classroom and I am going to win." I know the trend right now is the student-led learning and letting students make the rules, etc., but (maybe it's an inner-city thing) I have found that the students are far, far happier at the end when they know who is the boss.

It's too bad I'm not the boss of all of the children I see out there.


meloukhia said...

I have noticed that children of the middle class sometimes demonstrate the most atrocious behaviour imaginable. I think there's some kind of entitlement complex going on there, or maybe it's all the rage to raise awful children?

Jessamyn Harris said...

ha ha, I liked and agreed with this post, but I also thought this was HILARIOUS:
"It's too bad I'm not the boss of all of the children I see out there."

change that to "... of everyone I see out there", and that sounds a little more like you! ;)