When ‘because I said so’ was enough

I was all of 6 years old.  I was getting set to enter the first grade.  All day school, with a lunch box.  Are you kidding?  Life gets no better than a strawberry shortcake lunchbox with matching thermos.  I had just come off a marvelous kindergarten year.  I had learned the alphabet & my numbers.  I had been one of the leads in the kindergarten circus, taming those pesky lions.  I had loved my kindergarten teacher and she loved me.  Mrs. Goeke.  She was kind.  She was gentle. She was grandmotherly. She directed us wild 5 year olds with love and care.  She was warm & fuzzy.

First grade.  Me & my strawberry shortcake lunchbox realized ‘life is not kindergarten’.  Miss Schneck entered my life.  She was not warm and fuzzy.  As my mind remembers her, she was old, she was slender and boney, she wore long skirts with appropriately buttoned and marvelously ironed shirts, she had jet black hair with perfectly straight-across-cut bangs, and her fingers were long and skinny and did a lot of pointing.  She wasn’t mean, just strict.  She had rules & she ensured that all us rambunctious 6 & 7 year old followed them.

I am {& was also at the tender age of 6} an avid lover of rules and strict adherer to all statues and regulations.  It’s just in me.  But I also am {and was then too} a talker.  I tried to keep it in check at school because that was the rule. {which, ask my dad, made me a nonstop talker once I got home}  But on occasion Miss Schneck would have to tell me to stop talking to my neighbor.  If she had to tell that, my name was written on the board.  Eeeeegadssss!  I HATED my name being written on the board.  It signified that I had not complied with a rule.  We were allowed our name to be written in the right hand corner of the chalk board once as a warning before the checkmarks & consequences started coming.  One checkmark after your name = loss of recess & having to sit with Miss Schneck inside with your head down on your desk in silence.  Two checkmarks = staying after school 10 minutes also with head on desk in silence.  I can’t even imagine what three checkmarks would have yielded.  Imaginable awfulness, for certain!

Well, there was this one day.  I was extra, extra, extra chatty.  I have often blamed it on the seating arrangement that had just been unveiled seating me next to my very best friend & walking-to-school partner, Krystal.  But truth be told,it was probably just me being extra chatty.  My name was written on the board.  “Kim Marsh”  {she always wrote our full names, so formal}.  I hated it.  But not enough to stop talking to Krystal when I should have been paying attention to Miss Schneck.  A checkmark followed.  And then another.  Oh! My! Heavens!  I lost recess and had to stay after 10 minutes. The single longest 10 minutes of my life up to that point.

And then I got home.  Perhaps because they were both teachers, or perhaps because they were really good parents, they made sure that the consequences at home far outweighed the consequences dealt out in that classroom.  The fact that I had disobeyed a teacher, blew off her warning, and then not once but twice continued to disobey her was beyond acceptable.   I can remember clearly attempting to throw the blame for my chatty ways on Krystal.  I also spend time trying to get my parent to see that the teacher had wrongly accused me of talking.  I think I even tried accusing Miss Schneck of singling me out because she didn’t like me because I wore pants.  {oh the lengths we go to}.  My parents cared zero.   I don’t remember what my punishment was, I’m sure it was a doozey.  But I do know I never got my name on Miss Schneck’s board with checkmarks ever, ever, ever again.

6_Appeal_to_Authority

I don’t know that my parents ever said this exactly, but this is what I got from their “bringing me up” and have happily passed on to my littles : I don’t care if she asks you to stand on your head and whistle the national anthem before you hand in your work.  If that is the rule in that classroom, that is what you do.  Without exception.  The teacher makes the rules and you follow.  Unless those rules are illegal or hurt you or another person, you will follow.  And choosing to disobey, is choosing to receive a consequence.

I think this is what is called respecting authority.  Here’s what my parents, and their parents, and their parents knew.  Sometimes it’s not about the the stupid rule.  It’s about learning to respect authority.  No matter our position in life, we will always have someone in authority over us.  {yes, over us}  Parents, teachers, bosses, law enforcement.  And lest we think we can get to the top and avoid all authority, there is God.  If we don’t learn and understand the role of authority when we’re little, we will have some major difficulties when we’re older.  The consequences tend to rise with our age, so it’s best to teach children when they’re small and the consequences too are less.

So, we have a story this week of a girl in a classroom not obeying her teacher.  She was asked to get off her phone & then she was asked to leave and go to the office.  She refused.  Then when a resource officer had to be called to take care of her disobedience, she still refused.  Things got WAY OUT OF HAND with the officer who absolutely SHOULD NOT HAVE laid a hand on her EVER.  Don’t lose the point because of his outrageously wrong response.  She disregarded authority.  In essence she said with her behavior, “you’re wrong to ask me to do this.  I know more than you.  My need to sit in this seat and be on my phone is more important than you teaching me in this class right now.”  I think that’s messed up.

I have no answers to what to do about it.  None.  Our society has taken so much ability to discipline from our teachers that their hands are pretty much tied.  You would never in a million bazillion years be able to get a student to stay after school for ten minutes as a punishment.  For sure the parents would be calling that school complaining and all up in that teachers face for keeping their child after.   After all, their little one has practice they might miss or the parent might have to come pick them up because they’d miss the bus.  What an inconvenience!  Well, maybe we need to get a little more inconvenienced.  Maybe we need to give back some power to the teachers to help us train up these future adults.

You see, I see it like this.  Someday these little people will be big people.  And these big people will need jobs.  And bosses will require their employees to do work.  They’ll likely be a timeline and a specific way to accomplish the work and some rules about how they conduct themselves, etc.  Some of these demands will be logical & many will seem ridiculous and downright stupid.    The “I will do it my way” attitude just won’t cut it.  And when you disobey your boss, well, most of the time you lose your job.

And I also see this.  The world is dangerous & getting more dangerous all the time.  Those charged with keeping us safe from harm have an increasingly more difficult task of determining whose intentions are harmless and whose are meant for evil.  So when you don’t respect authority and you disregard the demand of a police officer who has no idea of your intentions, you risk being shot.  I mean this is the sad reality of our world.  If a cop thinks you may have a weapon & asks you to show him your hands by putting them up and you disobey — you could get shot.  No kidding!  That’s the reality of our lives.  It’s awful that we have to think like that, but it’s true.   “But the cop shouldn’t ask me, I’m not doing anything”  Who cares!!!  Let that work itself out.  Listen and stay alive!

I don’t know.  This is my two cents from my little midwestern soap box.  What are your thoughts?  leave me a comment.  I want to hear what others are thinking.

One thought on “When ‘because I said so’ was enough

  1. It all starts and ends with respect. Somewhere along the way we have lost what that means. It seems like people think to respect someone we lose something in ourselves- we aren’t tough, we are giving in, etc. I guess as a parent that is one thing I hope to instill in my boys…respect. I get that there are some exceptions in this world we live in but the majority of the people in the world deserve it.

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