It's that time of year again - back to school! And with back to school comes the inevitable bitching and bitches - and bastards and motherfuckers and also nice people and joy and freedom and blah, blah - but today I just want to focus on the assholes. Dear sweet parents, we can be awesome times a million and do all the right things, but that doesn't mean our kids will. It hurts when we put so much effort into teaching our crotchfruit to be kind and considerate and then find that despite all our efforts to civilize them, they go off and act like assholes.
Ah, but it happens. At some point or another, all kids try on the role of asshole. It might be a short phase. It could be a long haul. No matter the length of time or the degree of asshole behavior, parents are faced with the difficult task of dealing with this behavior in a mature and appropriate way. We are role models, you know. So, after you deal, or even before you deal, I suggest you also take time to vent, to talk shit out with your spouse or a trusted friend. There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. There is also nothing wrong with feeling angry or disgusted, whether it's your kid being the asshole or someone else's kid being an asshole to your kid. There is nothing easy about this gig.
And so, just so you know you aren't alone, I am sharing a story about an asshole with you today. My friend and fellow ChicagoNow blogger, Shannan Younger, who writes the informational and entertaining parenting blog, Tween Us, ripped off this rant about asshole behavior she witnessed and how she resisted the urge to behave like an asshole in response. It's pretty fantastic, good stuff for thinking on. This time of year is stressful. Sure, we are thrilled to get the crumb snatchers out the door and back into learning and structure, but it's also a scary time. Will our kids act like assholes? Will other kids act like assholes toward our kids? Will we be the asshole? What about other parents and teachers and bus drivers?
Odds are good that assholes will abound and that's okay. So long as we learn from these experiences and try to make the world a little less assholey, right?
It's back to school time, assholes!
By Shannan Younger
At 11:45 this morning I had to work to not go diving into my fridge and indelicately chug down the half-empty bottle of wine in there because I was so freaking pissed off.
Why? Because I spent the morning with my kid at her junior high school.
It was the one chance before the start of school for them to load their lockers, pick up the preordered school supplies, and figure out where their classes are.
I did okay among the hormones with feet for a while. I even enjoyed the fact that the new carpet and a fresh coat paint made the place smell a whole lot better than it did when school ended. (I’m pretty sure nowhere else on Earth reeks like a middle school in mid-May, especially if you’re within 20 feet of the gym lockers.) My daughter was right that the carpet print was dizzying, but I told her to keep her head up and she’d be fine.
The less than friendly note sent home explaining this “locker loading” event before the start of school stated that the children must have in hand a printed schedule and a parent. The wording made me wonder if my kid had to hold to my hand the whole time. (She did not.)
In fact, the school enforced neither requirement. The place was crawling with unsupervised tweens wandering aimlessly with no clear purpose. What could go wrong, right?
I was ticked that I had taken time off of work for this event and been stupid duped by the members of the school administration, none of whom were anywhere to be found. They’re clearly smarter than I am.
As a parent, you’re supposed to be the calm, rational, positive individual helping guide your child through the twists and turns of growing up. That is often a whole lot easier to say than to do, especially when each minute at the junior high on this day feels like another circle of hell.
I thought I handled it well when the two mommies standing in front of my kid’s locker gave us a dirty look when we asked them to move a little so she could get in. They scooted over about an inch and half. Thanks, ladies. Also, way to go with the talking smack about other kids. Real mature.
I even refrained from rolling my eyes when one child told someone about her family’s summer vacation. They went on a cruise and while they did get to go to Roatan, the scheduled stop in Cancun was cancelled due to the tides. How awful.
But I reached my limit just as my kid put away her last spiral notebook. So close to a clean getaway, yet so very freaking far.
A girl who had been running down the hall stopped dead in her tracks. She stared agape at my kid’s locker for what was probably a second but felt much longer. She finally said, “Oh. My. God. Dis. GUST. Ing.” Then she ran off.
I asked my daughter who she was.
My kid shrugged. “Never seen her before.”
“What’s her problem?”
“I dunno. Maybe she doesn’t like my One Direction magnet. There are a lot of haters.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” my kid brushed it off and headed off to find her French class.
I followed her down the hall, all the while thinking how very, very satisfying it would be to turn on my heels, do the fast walk/stalk that only an angry mother can do, and confront that little wench.
Yup. I’m mature, too. Actually, I really can be, but insult my kid and we have issues.
I wanted to say to this twerp, “What the fuck? Why? Why did you feel compelled to say that? What was to be gained?”
“Not one person asked for your opinion. You don’t even know my kid. Why do you care what’s in her locker? Have you ever heard of the value of an unexpressed thought?”
See, I bet she absolutely does know the power of the unexpressed thought. I’m willing to bet that she hasn’t had a meaningful conversation with her parents in a while and they would love to know her thoughts, even if it’s about how very much boy bands annoy her, but instead she keeps quiet. She’d prefer to save her opinions for kids she’s never met who happen to like something different than she does.
That is classic adolescent behavior, but that is also bullshit.
I know it was a very brief encounter, and if it didn’t bother my kid, it shouldn’t bother me. It was unkind. And I really hate it when people are unkind simply for the sake of being unkind.
I’m sure that there are many reasons this girl acted the way she did and I should probably feel sorry for her. I do. It makes me both angry and sad. I’m sad that junior high is where kids learn to accept haters. Over the summer I had blocked out some of the realities of tween behavior, and today was an unwelcome reality check.
Why can’t the back to school list include a healthy dose of kindness? Or at least a recommendation that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?
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