Grown Ups of the Village: Will You Please Behave?
This morning I had to explain to my daughter why she isn’t allowed to take her Nintendo DS to school. I like to lend authority to my assertions, beyond the power-trippin’, blanket statement “Cuz I said so” which doesn’t really impart any commitment to obey when I’m not looking. And even though it may seem like it at time (since I’m just that good at reading people’s intentions), I do not in actuality possess eyes in the back of my head.
I’ve proven myself, over time, to be on the side of intelligence,
so normally I don’t have to explain myself to my kids; they generally do what I tell them to do without questioning my authority, and in turn I try not to abuse their trust. But when my seven-year-old sees other children packing their hand-held gaming devices into their backpacks with their grown up’s blessing, she tends to think this might be the 1% when her own mommy got it wrong.
I’ve brought her up to have a questioning mind, to have a curious nature and investigate her feelings, to closely examine the world she’s in. It’s not that I don’t want her to emulate my way of thinking — on the contrary, I do, I do! But I want her to come to the conclusion on her own that I indeed do typically know what’s best. Blind obedience does not a smart child make. Coming to her own conclusions will make her into a better person better than anything I could make her become. And we all want what’s best for our children.
Apparently not. In front of all these other grown ups, I had to tiptoe around the fact that they were breaking school rules and teaching their kids to be sneaky and naughty. It’s supposed to take a village to raise good kids, but on this one… the village severely failed us. You put me in a crappy position, because what I really wanted to say, and what you truly deserved, was this: “Well, sweet pea, those other grown ups are making bad choices, and those other kids are taking advantage of that and learning it’s okay to cheat.”
[Okay, that was the cleaned-up version of what I wanted to say. The dirty version is something like this: “Those other grown ups are stupid hillbilly idiots and don’t know any better because they are ignorant stupid-heads, and those little cretins aren’t anyone I want you hanging out with anyway since I can see right now how they are going to turn out. Look away, child, look away!” And even that version is kinder than what honestly went through my brain, but I’ll leave off with this because I’m sure you get me.]
No time to come up with a brilliant response. I felt the world hanging on my choice of words. I saw the other grown ups looking over to see if I’d rat them out. I saw the other kids looking over to see if they’d have to remove their electronics from their bags. I saw the bus driver looking over to see what the heck was taking the kids so long to line up and board. I saw a dog pee on the fire hydrant — no relation to the situation at hand, but I needed a distraction from the stress.
I chickened out.
I told my daughter we would have to talk about it later, after school when we had more time for a more in depth discussion. The world released a collective sigh; the grown ups went back to kissing their kids goodbye; the kids went back to stuffing games into their grimy bags; the bus driver smiled indulgently as the kids began lining up; the dog finished its whiz and wandered away. I thought I had this in the bag for the moment.
But then my baby did a wonderful, terrible, remarkably intelligent thing. She connected this incident with another similar trial we had experienced in the mall just before Christmas. We had just visited Santa and were cruising back toward the end of the mall housing the parking lot with my car (always on the opposite end, which is why I seldom go a-malling), when we passed by a pet shop sponsored by the Humane Society. I hate pet shops — I’ll have to write about that another time — but my baby girl wanted to see the kitties, and it was Christmas time, and you see where this is headed. Yeah, we went in and looked at the adorable cats in cages. Whee!
All the walls sported signs indicating that sticking your fingers into the cage to pet the animals was a strict no-no. Like, duh. Isn’t that typically the case? However, my child cozied up to a cute little baby critter currently being prodded by a grown up who looked to be about my age, and reached out her hand to give a pet. The teenaged cashier frowned my direction — in spite of the fact that the entire shop was filled with other people doing the exact same thing — and I had to pull my daughter out of the shop with her snuggle-wishes unfulfilled.
Back to the bus stop.
In her tiny adorable voice, louder than the roar of the bus that fine grey morning, my daughter shouted clearly, “You always make me follow the rules even though other grown ups are breaking them! It’s not fair!”
And she is so right. It’s not fair. Welcome to the world, baby girl.
***DISCLAIMER: This post is “from the vault”. My Bloggy-Blog recently crashed. This was an item we were able to save thanks to the Black Box we recovered from the wreckage. There will be more items along this line as we salvage more survivors. ***