Help me, Husband dearest, but NOT like that …

 

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Warning: not for the faint of heart feminist

I came across this tidbit in my Facebook newsfeed recently, and had a good chuckle not just because it’s meant to be funny, but because it signifies something about a lot of modern women and THAT makes me laugh.

I think instead the poem could be entitled “Ode to the Never-Quite-Good-Enough Husband” and include more lines that go something like this:

Fold the towels, but not like that.

Cook once in a while, but not like that.

Discipline the children, but not like that.

Communicate with me, but not like that.

You plan the trip for a change, but not like that.

ETC. ETC. ETC.

It doesn’t rhyme, but most of today’s feminists probably won’t catch that; they’re too busy looking for more things to add because they’re loving this poem already and thinking of various places to stick it before he gets home.  And it probably won’t be in a nice homemade casserole either.

Too sarcastic for you?  I think you’re on the wrong blog.  You must have stumbled over here on your way to googling “how to get your man to do exactly what you want” or something like that.  If so, here’s a link you might be interested in:

I’m No Feminist!

And if you still think you have it rough because “he’s like an extra child”, try this one:
Bye for now!
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Parenting Done Wrong?

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I know parents are supposed to support each other (it takes a village and all that jazz), that parenting isn’t easy, and that no matter how hard you try, some days just don’t go well.  Even your normally quiet and best behaved little ones are going to have tantrums, outbursts. I get it.  I’ve been there.  I never said my kids wouldn’t do it.  But I did say my kids wouldn’t get away with doing it.  Big difference.

But the cases that really make my eyes pop out are the ones in which the PARENTS are to blame and the PARENTS are the ones you’d like to slap upside of the head because they’re not only condoning but encouraging the unacceptable behaviour either by their lack of immediate discipline or their need to make everything exactly the way their little princes and princesses want it to be, even at the expense of others.  Like, we’re all supposed to put up with your little hellion because you choose to do so?  I don’t think so, Tim.

I’m talking about parents who appear to be raising their snowflakes to grow up thinking the rest of the world will bow to them just like their parents do, and I’m especially talking about the parents who are willing to buy their way out of anything.  Can you say “teenage criminal with money bags daddy who pays off a judge to just make it go away”?  OK, call me dramatic, but that kind of crap starts somewhere and a couple of incidents I heard about this week sparked my attention.

My daughter belongs to a running group online and recently there was a big Disney marathon weekend in Florida, so people have been chatting about their experiences and she shared these two with me: (I can’t link you directly to the posts because it’s a closed group)

Please stop kicking me

One runner who was taking in some of the Disneyworld attractions while there for the weekend, was standing in line for a ride and found herself being shoved and actually kicked by some children next to her.  The parents were right there.  She asked the kids to please stop kicking her, and was told by the parents to get over it, “this place is for kids, you know”. Huh?

IN FRONT OF YOUR KIDS you have just now told them IT IS OK TO KICK PEOPLE because they are standing in an amusement park themed just for them and anyone else there needs to put up with whatever they decide to do, even if it hurts.  And yes, the kids went right on shoving and kicking.  Un-freaking-believeable.

I’ve been at the Happiest Place on Earth, I’ve seen a few misbehaving children in line on occasion – most are just cute and excited to be there – but I’ve never been pushed or shoved by any of them and had I been, I’m really not sure what I would have given as a response to these absolutely rude and ineffective parents.  Those lines can get pretty crowded, you aren’t always close to a staff member to ask for help,  and you never know how someone might twist off at you if you dare suggest that their perfect little wonder child is annoying you.

No, you can’t have my medal

Another runner who had just completed a challenge – a 10K run and the marathon – was sitting in a restaurant afterward with some friends and had one of her medals sitting on the table.  A boy about five years old went over, took the medal, put it around his own neck and went back to his own table.  The runner went over to the table and asked for her medal back.  He gave it to her, but a few minutes after she got back to her own table, the boy’s mother came over to say that he really wanted her medal and she would pay $50 for it. (cough – privileged brat – cough).  The runner said no, that it wasn’t for sale, she had earned it and wasn’t giving it up.  The mother then offered $100, to which the runner again said no, and the kid came over and proceeded to throw a temper tantrum.  The runner said she was sorry that the boy couldn’t handle the disappointment of not getting what he wanted.  The mother told the runner it’s just a medal, she had ruined the boy’s day, and that perhaps she would understand if she had kids of her own.

Just take a breath and let that sink in.

The runner EARNED her medal – if you know anything about running marathons you know what that means – and because some kid’s mom can pay his way out of everything  the rest of the world is supposed to bow down, surrender their stuff, take the cash and move on.

These stories wouldn’t be so annoying if they weren’t so damn typical in today’s world of self-entitlement.  Yes, I had kids and no, they were not – nor are they now as adults – perfect.  But here’s how this would have gone down had one of my kids even tried to pull such a ridiculous stunt:

  1. My kids, at five, were not allowed to wander freely around a public place unsupervised.  Problem solved.
  2. IF by chance one got away from my table before I could stop them, I would have followed them immediately and prevented the taking of the medal.  Problem solved.
  3. IF I hadn’t made it to my child before they grabbed the medal, I would have turned them straight around to give it back with an apology FROM MY CHILD to the owner.  Problem solved.
  4. IF for some reason – like the runner’s table was right beside mine and my child was able to take two steps over without me stopping him/her – as soon as they got back to the table with the medal in hand they would have been taken to the owner to surrender the medal and give an apology.  Problem solved.
  5. If my child threw a temper tantrum over not being able to have the medal, I wouldn’t have been whipping out my wallet.  I would have been dragging my child to the car where they would have received what is now probably an illegal smack on the butt and maybe even the deprivation of further entertainment in the theme park designed for children.

I cannot fathom the arrogance and stupidity of the mother who decided that her child’s immediate desire trumped the choice of a woman to keep something significant that was her own to begin with, and that it was OK to sanction the lifting of someone else’s possession with no consequence other than having to bear the disappointment of knowing that even mommy’s money couldn’t make it all better.

As to the first situation with the kicking children, had I been the receiver of the kicks and the parental response, I think I might have spoken directly to the children and told them that “mommy and daddy say that kicking people is OK so if you want to kick someone, turn around and kick them”.  After all, they’re certainly the people who deserve to be kicked.  Hard.

I can honestly say here that I have a hard time imagining even my most active little guy thinking it was OK to kick strangers in a public place, so the behavior of these children must have been learned and tolerated long before the trip to Disneyworld! Had one of mine crossed the line though, they’d have been made to apologize – I would have also apologized for not paying close enough attention to see what happened – and if it didn’t stop, my child would have been removed from the line-up to miss going on that ride and learn a lesson in proper behaviour because the place was NOT DESIGNED JUST FOR THEM and even if it were, there’s still no excuse.

I can tolerate children who are stepping out of line; it happens.  I cannot tolerate parents who stand by and allow it, not because they didn’t see it, not because they don’t have enough hands to deal with it, but because they actually say it’s OK and are willing to reward their children for bad behaviour.  I can’t even …

 

 

 

 

Which Santa comes to your house?

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One day in the future, when people (Ok, maybe just my own kids…) look back on things I have written, they will see that I somehow – and unintentionally – ended up with an annual Christmas rant.  It’s not like I plan these things; it’s really just too easy with the material I’m given to work with.

This morning I stumbled upon a post on social media that involved a parent seeking a professional gift wrapper she could pay to wrap the Santa gifts and write out the tags for her kids because they knew what her own wrapping style looked like.  Yes, I read it twice.

Pause… Breathe … Regroup.

(If you really suck at gift wrapping, go ahead and pay others to do it if you must.  Or if you have a need for all your gifts to look like Martha Stewart wrapped them, you are entitled to that.  I’m addressing the idea of having to go this route because of a situation created that could have been avoided altogether.)

Now I’m not going to tell anyone how to do their Santa thing in their own family because that’s everyone’s own business.  (I do have some opinions about how some of what you might choose to do affects other children, but that’s in another post already…)

If you enjoy running around like a headless chicken for the month of December embellishing with ever increasing fervor the commercialized and over active Santa Claus of 2016 – in between trying to find new and exciting ways for your shelf elf to appear on each of twenty-four busy mornings and hoping the comparisons done by children will rate your efforts worthy – then you just go for it and have fun!

However, when people share their complaints about stress during the holiday season, and then talk about things like having to buy special paper just for Santa gifts – or in the above case, actually paying someone else to wrap and write on tags – I have to ask what the heck you are thinking getting yourselves into this mess.

I think that once you have to start farming out your Santa duties because you can’t fake out your own kids anymore, you’ve dug your hole too deep and maybe it’s just time to just fess up already.  You should have just started with unwrapped Santa gifts the first year.  See how easy that would have been?

But now you’re paper committed; it starts with having to buy special paper every year and hiding it strategically, hoping the kids don’t see it, because if they do, you’ll have to take it back to the store and exchange it for new stuff (true story from a retail clerk).  Then they start to recognize your wrapping style.  What a bummer! No chance at all that these uber observant probably borderline genius kids you’re trying to fool just might have heard something in the air about Santa not being real?

(I don’t believe my adult children – after 28 and 30 years – would be able to pick my own wrapping out of a pile unless they knew which paper I used, but perhaps they missed out on that gene.)

It’s too late for many.  But for what it’s worth – from my life experience and subsequent observations – here’s my advice for new parents contemplating the variety of options:

KEEP IT SIMPLE FROM THE START.  Seriously.  Your kids will still have lots of fun and you won’t get migraines.  They don’t need a lot of extra balderdash to make Christmas special. They will come to appreciate what YOU make it, and what society says won’t matter if YOU don’t care.

Tell your kids about the REAL SANTA, not the fake one.  It’s so much easier to deal with over time and it teaches your kids to share and to give.  The real Santa lived hundreds of years ago – St. Nicholas – and he did deliver presents to kids, and everything we do now under the name of fake Santa actually started with him, but it’s gone far beyond a kind and loving gesture.  It’s turned into a commercial cash grab and parents are jumping down the rabbit hole every time something new comes along.  Why embellish?  Why build on lie after lie until you can no longer find enough ways to keep it going any longer?  Why not just tell the truth up front and have fun with it and let everyone enjoy sharing in the spirit of Santa?

Kids like suspense and anticipation. You decide what they’ll be waiting for at Christmas.

Will it be some guy in a red suit who delivers big expensive gifts to some kids and no gifts at all to others?  The guy who actually visits some homes in person but never visits others, or who phones certain children to chat while others never hear from him?  The guy who after many decades now needs to depend on stuffed elves to keep track of kids and entertain them for a month before he comes himself?  The guy who painstakingly wraps gifts for certain kids in special paper they’ve apparently never seen anywhere else while simply tossing the gifts of other kids under the tree as if he had no time left to decorate those?  This 21st century Santa is no longer the wonderful character of old fashioned movies.  He’s probably in therapy trying to keep up with the parents of today.

Will it be the guy you have to explain about every year because the rules keep changing, society is constantly upping the ante, and nobody wants to feel left out of the excitement that is supposed to be about making kids happy rather than competitive and greedy?

Or will you have your kids wait for the special surprises that will be left for them by loving family members who are carrying on the tradition started by a real person of playing Santa to make others feel happy and loved?  No lies to cover up, no extravagant commercial trends to keep up with, just the spirit of Santa Clause that lives on in truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Memories

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You know that annoying new feature on Facebook that regularly shows you memories from years ago?  Yeah, that one.  The one that’s constantly showing me pictures from a sad and tragic experience, pictures I only look at in my home on occasions when I’m able to do so without bursting into tears.

I guess it isn’t enough that Facebook asks me every single time I log in “What’s on your mind?” (like they really want to know) it now feels the need to PUT things onto my mind that weren’t already there in Kodak living color in that particular moment when I might just have been having a very happy day remembering all the nice and fun things I have to remember and avoiding giving too much time to those thoughts about how sometimes parts of my life just suck because my husband is gone and I miss him terribly.  Every. Single. Day.

And then, BOOM! There’s a picture I deliberately keep tucked away.

Doesn’t Facebook know that our lives go through cycles and that when we post something in the moment for a specific reason, maybe three years later we don’t need it flashed back at us because we can look it up ourselves if we really really REALLY want to?  I mean, we’ve already shared it once, is there some need at Facebook’s end for us to share it again?  Of course, there’s always a nice little note that it won’t be seen by anyone else as a past memory unless we choose to share it.

Thanks, but I CHOSE TO SHARE IT THREE YEARS AGO WHEN IT HAPPENED, NOW PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!  Are they running out of data or traffic or interesting shares?  Are people just not posting enough stuff anymore that they’re turning to reruns? Geesh.  Maybe other people get a wide variety of memories brought back up in their faces, but my stream seems to follow the same path every time, right into a Kleenex commercial.

That’s what is on my mind, Facebook.

(Before anyone feels the need to tell me, yes, I do know I can turn off the memories that appear, and yes, once in a blue moon there is one I enjoy seeing but I’m not a fan of reruns unless they’re ones of my favorite old TV shows.)

 

Rebel with a cause, part 2 of 2

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It was a dark and stormy night…

Ok, I won’t make you wait any longer.  Just make sure you’ve read part 1 before you go any further.

Grade eleven Social Studies:  We were given the assignment to write an opinion essay, remember?

I chose the school system as my topic.


I’m pausing here so you have time to laugh or gasp or choke or whatever you want to do.


Better now? OK.

I don’t remember all the details, but I touched on some very current and pertinent points for the time period, respectfully but honestly, including something about independent thinking being encouraged unless it led to questioning or criticizing “the system”.  It was a great paper, no bragging intended (I can’t necessarily take credit for the things that came easily to me).  I did hand it in with some concern about how the subject would be received, but I was damn proud of it.  I got an A.

Fast forward to grade twelve English, same teacher, Mr. Cramp. (Let me pause here to give him credit for being a far better English teacher than my previous one had been!  I liked him during Social Studies and I liked him for English, until …)

It was time for our big novel study to be done as a class and Mr. Cramp chose George Orwell’s 1984.  The first day we were to start reading, we had a substitute teacher and a double block class – usually silent reading for one block and then a regular class for the second.  I opened the book, read up to page 16, was disgusted by the scene described there, closed the book, and put it on my desk.  I took out some other work and quietly passed my time.  Not long after, the sub noticed and then started walking up and down the rows of desks until she got to me.  She asked quietly why I wasn’t reading the book.  I answered quietly that it offended me and I didn’t want to read it, but that I would continue working  and talk to my teacher when he got back.  There was no fanfare; everyone else continued reading.

My dad called that evening from Vancouver where he was for a meeting, I explained the situation to him, and he assured me that I did not have to read the book if I didn’t want to read it.

The next day, Mr. Cramp returned, and I was asked to stay after class.  He told me that the sub had left a note saying I refused to read the novel and that I had caused disruption in the class.  I assured him I hadn’t caused anything of the sort, that I’d answered her question respectfully, and that I’d worked quietly so as not to disturb anyone.  He then wanted to know why I refused to read the book.

I told him it offended me, that there were immoral sections in it and it was not the kind of material I wanted to read.  At one point in our debate, I even reminded him that I knew he was a church going Christian and that he should understand why I wouldn’t want to read something like that.  He chose it because it was considered a “classic.”  I questioned what constitutes a “classic” and who gets to decide.  He wasn’t pleased and things got more heated.  I asked to be allowed to read any one of the many other books on the suggested reading list for our grade and was denied.  We debated for a while longer and we both left unsatisfied.  Again, to his credit, he wasn’t harsh or rude with me, but he was very upset and understandably frustrated.

So began the power struggle between us: the classroom discussions – unrelated to the book – that I remained quiet for even though I knew the answers to questions he posed and he knew I knew them (sometimes I was the only one who knew them) but wasn’t putting up my hand, and the various quizzes I was doomed to fail after assigned chapter readings (even though a few of my other classmates tried to give me daily summaries in Biology whenever it fell before English on our schedule!).  I was disappointed in him and while I wasn’t willing to be rude to him, I had lost my interest in participating energetically. He couldn’t break me.  I think he probably always knew he wouldn’t win but, as the teacher, he also couldn’t bring himself to bend.  Perhaps he even wanted to but wasn’t allowed to, who knows?  Regardless, though we had once shared a good rapport we were now just mutually respectful adversaries.

My biology teacher – an eccentric but fun little guy – casually teased me one day that he heard I was refusing to read a novel in English class.  I responded that I didn’t think it appropriate for teachers to sit in the staff room and discuss something like that when it had nothing to do with anyone else.  He just laughed.  I knew then that probably all the teachers were aware of my stand, but I was long past caring.  I was, after all, nearly old enough to vote, so I certainly had the right to stand up for myself and my values.

During parent teacher interviews it was common for students to walk their parents around to find their classrooms (huge school!) and I sat outside while mine went in to meet with Mr. Cramp.  The typical time slot was about ten minutes, so after half an hour, a couple of the other parents waiting in line were joking with me, asking just what kind of mark I was getting in the class (one of the other parents was, ironically, the principal from the junior high school science teacher incident described in my previous post!).  I told them I actually had an A.  That gave them all a good laugh.

When it was over, my parents said that he had expressed his concern over my refusal to read the book and the fact that he knew I was avoiding class participation since the issue began.  They expressed their support of my right to not read the book.  He made sure they knew that it would affect my mark because I wasn’t able to participate in the assignments or the quizzes.  We were aware of this and I did drop from a high B to a low B average for that section.  And, as part of his perspective, he then brought in the matter of the paper I had written in grade eleven about the school system, using that to further his point about my non-compliance.  Dad reminded him that he had given me an A for a well-written paper.  He admitted it was well written despite its indication of my tendency to rebel on certain matters.  I can imagine from what I know of my parents and what I knew of Mr. Cramp, that the whole meeting went off without raised voices or rude comments.  But it remained a standstill nonetheless.

At the end of all that came the book report I wrote in its entirety while working coat check at a New Year’s Eve parish dance.  I used class notes and came up with a paper that earned my teacher’s 87% grade – not up to my usual level (in my day, 87 was an A minus) but a very reasonable result for not having read the book.  And he knew I hadn’t read it, but he was reasonable enough to mark my writing on its own merit.

If you’re still here, good job paying attention!  I didn’t realize that I remembered so many things so clearly until I started writing them down.  It’s pretty obvious that I’m strong willed.  It’s also obvious that my parents stood with me when I stood up for something important to me.  None of these situations show that I “won” anything.  But I also didn’t lose.  I stayed true to myself, I was respectfully assertive, and I learned that even if you can’t actually beat the system, you don’t have to let it beat you.

I came away from my many years of school with two favourite teachers I remember fondly to this day.  Neither stifled my spirit; both showed me that being an effective teacher was about far more than the subject matter, and that respect is earned. It doesn’t just come with age or degree.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you about kindergarten, when I was so bored and angry about having to use those big fat red pencils to print when I could already write my name in cursive script, that I deliberately scribbled outside the lines on all the pictures on a counting sheet, just to make a point.  THAT was talked about in a parent-teacher conference too …

Rebel with a cause, part 1 of 2

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I referenced a couple of school related incidents in my previous post about writing,  so if you remained at all curious, it starts here, with a few years of leading up to my final stand 🙂

When most people talk about rebellious teenagers, they’re referring to rebellion against parents, rules, societal norms, and authority in general.  Much to the relief of my parents and the disappointment of my children (no juicy stories to share!) I didn’t go through a rebellious stage at home.  I had moments of rebellion, but mine weren’t typical, and I always had my parents’ support in them.

I rebelled at school.  I didn’t rebel against rules or hard work.  I didn’t disrespect teachers, I got very good grades, I didn’t skip class, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t party.  I didn’t even stay out late at night. But I did rebel.  (Can you even believe it, looking at that face?)

I rebelled against injustice and ridiculousness.  I rebelled against having immoral ideas and material forced upon me.  I rebelled against anything sending the message that I had to conform to what teachers said, even if it was against my personal beliefs, just because I was a kid.  I wasn’t rebelling against authority;  I was standing up for a cause.

Just the beginning

I didn’t like my grade eight (or nine?) science teacher because he was a forty-something playboy type who thought he was “all that”; I thought he was a creep.  Along with his generally annoying ways, he made a blatantly inappropriate sexual reference one particular day while speaking to the class about something in the area of biology, and I reacted to it in a way that got me kept after the bell.  I don’t honestly remember what I did, but I do remember that once everyone had left except me – and a friend who stayed to support me – I was sure I was in trouble and I smirked.  This was my unfortunate reaction when I was nervous or in trouble for something, and it landed me in the principal’s office that day.

I was very disappointed because the vice principal (principal was busy) seemed much more concerned about my smirking at the teacher than he was about the teacher’s behaviour.  This was my first indication that as a student my guilt was assumed first and foremost, regardless of any truth I might be sharing.  Apparently, my previous record of good grades and respectful behaviour were either unknown or irrelevant to him.

I stood my ground that the teacher was wrong, and was then told that “they” would be checking in with all my other subject teachers to see how I was behaving in class.  I told him that was fine with me and that I had no concerns.  Just to be sure, I personally approached each of my other teachers after school that day to let them know they might be asked about my behaviour as a student in class (kept the details vague) and that if there was anything at all they weren’t happy about I wanted to know directly.  None of them had a problem with me and assured me that I was a good and respectful student.

I remember my dad coming to the school either the next day or not long after and going to the office with me to meet with the principal himself.  I wouldn’t give up my own position, my dad supported that, and when I asked the principal about the results of talking to my other teachers, he had nothing to say.  He decided to have my science teacher join us; the guy sat down and was acting all nice and trying to be casual about things, but I didn’t even want to look at him. When the principal asked me why, I told him I wasn’t comfortable with him and that what he did was wrong.  I don’t remember exactly what happened after that meeting, but it was near the end of the school year, and we heard over the summer that the teacher wouldn’t be returning to a school in our district.  There had been other complaints along the same line after the end of the school year, from people who probably weren’t wanting to rock the boat with him during school time.  Take that, administration.  I was not wrong.  I got used to standing alone amongst conformers.

Then came the videos

In grade nine we were all supposed to watch a video about venereal disease and how to prevent it.  The announcement of the start of the video came over the speaker when I was in English class and while the rest of the students were leaving their desks, I stayed in my seat.  My teacher came over and asked me why I wasn’t leaving, and reminded me that we were all supposed to go because it was an important educational video.  I told him that the only way to get VD was by doing something I had no intention of doing for a long time so I didn’t need to watch it.  I was “preventing it” just fine on my own.  He was a very nice and reasonable man, and he thought I had a point, so he let me stay and get back to my work.

When I got to grade eleven – a different school with a whole new set of teachers to surprise! – I found out one day during lunch hour that there would be a video shown during a class of mine later that day of an actual vasectomy surgery.  No, thank you.  I went straight to the pay phone and called my mom.  She agreed that there was no way I had to watch such a video; she called the school directly, backed me up and that was that.

Senior High, Holding my own

My grade eleven English teacher was a real winner.  She majored in English but couldn’t explain to us the proper use of who and whom (“I just do whatever sounds best”)  or the difference between a colon and a semi-colon, among many other points of study.  She had a sign-up sheet for students who wanted to help her with her regular marking and “earn” themselves a higher letter grade in the class. She spent a lot of time at the back where the guys were sitting and it wasn’t uncommon to see her sitting on the edge of their desks chatting it up, even though she was middle-aged herself.  I’m not implying that she had inappropriate intentions; she just wasn’t the most professional teacher I’ve ever had.

One day she had us move our desks into groups of four to do a project involving scissors, glue and cut outs from magazines to make collages for some stupid reason; she had previously sent a couple of people out to buy the magazines, telling us that there was still too much money left in the budget for her department so it had to be spent or they wouldn’t get it next year.  Thank you, taxpayers, for those magazines. (Meanwhile, the biology department was struggling to find enough money for the grade twelve fetal pig projects.)

Several ridiculous classroom events led me and five other students to get up and walk out of class one day because we were so frustrated.  We walked straight across the hall to the principal’s office and told him that we were learning nothing, that she was doing ridiculous things, and that we couldn’t take it anymore.  We wanted a proper teacher.  We were all A students.  He told us all about her qualifications and suggested we return to class of our own free will.  We must have eventually gone back but our uprising hadn’t been completely in vain because we had taken a stand for our own education and that was something.  It led to further discussions.

One evening not long after that, my dad took me to the school where we sat with my teacher and the principal around a large table covered with a blown up copy of the curriculum, and they tried using it to prove she was teaching us as she should be.  Interestingly enough, the way those things were worded (vaguely described and without proper explanation) we couldn’t prove her wrong by that piece of paper, but after a civil interaction, they both knew we weren’t being fooled.

I rode it out to the end of the year when, with three weeks left, she gave us our last in-class test, because she wanted to have everything all marked before the actual end of the year to save her time.  Yes, she voiced these things. The next time she asked us to do an assignment after watching a video, I asked her nicely why we had to do it.  Was it going to count for something?  She answered “no”, because the marks were done.  I suggested there was no point in wasting my time doing it then, she suggested that wasn’t a good attitude, and I sat quietly pondering her lack of logic while waiting for the bell to ring.

On final exam day, a few of us heard students of other English teachers talking about the poetry section on the final exam.  Poetry?  We had done nothing at all with poetry! Perhaps that was supposed to be happening during cut & paste time?  We ran to one of the other English teachers and asked for help so we could at least cram something into our heads before the test started.  Thankfully the other teacher was able to quickly go over the main ideas and assured us that there were only a few poetry questions.

I think she must have tried mending fences because I remember going with another friend to her house for tea one day over summer holidays.  She was probably a lot of fun socially, but students need teachers to teach.  That fall she was given a principal position at another school.  And we shook our heads …

Then there was the time in grade twelve that I skipped a pep rally on principle.  Hard to believe, I know, but the story went something like this:

Some of the teachers had actually been complaining to us in class about government budget cuts and how they were expected to cram so much more material into less class time, suggesting that they didn’t know how we were going to cover everything in the shorter time frames.  And then one afternoon there was a pep rally in the gym for one of our teams and all students were required to attend.  It was to be a two-hour event.  WE WERE EXPECTED TO SKIP AN ENTIRE AFTERNOON OF SUPPOSEDLY NOT ENOUGH CLASS TIME TO GO TO A SPORTS RALLY.  Just wanted to make sure you got that clearly.  They even locked the school doors so we couldn’t just leave school altogether and an announcement was made to that effect.  Un-freaking-believable.

So I went straight to one of my favourite teachers who wasn’t attending the rally herself and asked if I could please sit in her class and work on some of my assignments instead of wasting two hours at a pep rally.  She, being one of the sweetest and most dedicated teachers I had, completely understood my rationale, agreed with my sensible alternative choice, and at her own risk allowed me to sit in her classroom until it was over and the doors were unlocked for us to go home.  She was a tiny, sweet, humble, and unassuming English lady, but she was also a stand-up-alone-when-you-have-to kind of person, and we remained friends long after graduation.

And now, the story you’ve been waiting for …

Ok, you’ve only been waiting for it if you read my last post which hinted at my high school years.  This part – the best part – could be a whole post on its own now that I think about it.  I mean, this teacher deserves a whole post…

And really, you’ve already been reading for a long time here.  So yes, I’ve just decided to make it another post all on its own, Rebel with a cause part 2.  Stay tuned for tomorrow …

 

Are You Really Sorry?

10492210_10153627806682819_6163576714959638871_nWhen I saw this picture in my news feed this morning, my initial reaction was to quickly like it and comment in agreement.  Then I realized I had more thoughts about it from personal experiences and I didn’t want to hijack the other person’s post, so I decided – as I sometimes do when a perspective I want to share is too long for Facebook – to write a little bit about it here on my blog where I can express things more fully.  Yes, I do realize that these circulating online sentiments are meant to be simple thoughts and most people don’t bother to analyze them.  But every once in a while I read something that prompts a more in-depth reflection in my own mind.

Apologies are for when you recognize you’ve done something wrong.  If you don’t believe you have, even after reflecting on your intentions, your manners, or whatever applies, an apology isn’t sincere, it’s merely a peacekeeping move.  Over time, repeated “just-in-case” or “keeping-the-peace” apologies can lead to dysfunction in relationships.  I know this from experience and also from the influence of others more experienced than I in dealing with relationship issues, anxieties, self-esteem, desires to constantly please others, etc.

It’s been an important lesson in my life to learn that even when I’m doing my best to say and do the right things, other people still get mad, hurt, or offended, and it isn’t necessarily about me.  Sometimes I’m the one who feels hurt by someone else’s words or actions, even though they haven’t really done anything wrong. There are times when, for the good of another person, we have to say something that’s true and with the intention of helping them to see something significant about themselves or about a situation – politely and with kindness.  There are times when our actions are necessary for the benefit of our own well-being or that of the other person, regardless of their response.  I’ve experienced having people care enough about helping me to risk my possible upset or anger, and it truly gives more value to our relationship because I know then that my well being is more important to them than their own comfort, and that speaks volumes about the depth of our connection.  We don’t learn these things in relationships where everything must be kept light and non-confrontational.

Of course, if we truly wish to help someone, it’s always important to consider why we’re saying or doing things and if it’s necessary for some purpose or if we’re just compelled to give opinions.  Depending on the person, their mental state, and their openness or lack thereof to hear the truth or another perspective, they might be well receiving, or get very upset.  Neither is an indication of wrongdoing because people’s reactions are often determined as much or more by their own issues than anything outside of themselves.

I can “regret” saying or doing something once I discover the effect it had, and re-think the value of doing it in the first place, but that doesn’t mean I believe I actually did something “wrong”.  Other times it’s clear that my initial action or words weren’t with the proper intention or were merely my own lack of consideration, in which case I do owe an apology.

HOWEVER, I do believe being open to recognizing the effect of something we said or did and working to repair misunderstandings- if possible and depending on the other’s state of mind – is more important than letting ego dictate actions and communication.  If we truly care about the other person and our relationship with them, even knowing our words or actions were correct and without malice doesn’t justify ignoring the hurt a friend or family member is experiencing.  Honesty often leads to hurt feelings, but open communication both ways can allow for healing and growth.

Personally, I find that the more authentic I am in my everyday encounters, the deeper and more authentic my close relationships become. There are a deeper trust and more room for honest expression and communication which doesn’t happen in relationships where people are overly concerned about always being liked, pleasing others, and never having anyone upset with them.  I’ve personally found the latter relationships to be superficial and unproductive.  I can maintain them if necessary, depending on the person and the connection, but they seldom end up developing into anything deep or lasting.

Obviously, the reactions people have to the picture above and even to my perspective here will depend on personality, temperament, and personal experience.  For my part, if you get an apology from me, it’s because I know I was wrong, not merely because I’m concerned you won’t like me anymore 🙂