I am here to confess a most grievous sin of mine. I reprimand children in public. Children who are not my own kids. You may keel over in disbelief right now as I know this is a very unpopular stand.
I have read posts and articles where parents vent their fury that another adult said something to their child. I have read the comments where readers promise unholy consequences should anyone say a thing to their child. And yet I do it anyway.
Here’s the deal, I was raised in the 1950’s, the middle ages apparently, when all the parents on the street watched out for and scolded all the kids. Our teachers also scolded us and made us toe the line.
I had to see him after school. I waited cowering in his office until I was summoned. He remarked, “I hear you’re late to science.” I burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. He summed up the meeting with “Get to science on time.”
I went home and told my mom and begged her not to tell my dad I had been sent to the principal’s office. She told me to get up earlier.
So I did. And I was pretty much on time until I retired. I think I need another visit to the principal’s office.
I raised my girls the same way. Their teachers corrected them, their coaches did and their leaders of various clubs and packs did as well.
I also learned that when my girls said so and so yelled at them, it meant not complimenting them and joking. They would say to me, stop yelling and I would be merely speaking in a stern voice. (Although, I did sometimes yell.)
Here’s the thing, I wasn’t perfect. Nor were my girls. And your children are not either.
And girls cry in Junior High and High school every single day. I cried once in math class when the teacher asked me how big a football field was and I replied “I don’t know.” I felt foolish but it was just hormones.
I taught in public schools for 35 years and I tried to help kids mend their ways and become the best they could be. I also brought students to France 10 times. Before one trip a Mom presented me with a t-shirt which read SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED.
That Mom got it and as a result she had really really good kids. They learned some lessons, got some bumps, learned from them and matured.
My mom realized that no one had “made” me cry, I just did that naturally. She trusted that other adults had my best interests at heart and if they didn’t, oh well, a different lesson learned.
Since I have retired teaching I have reprimanded a large group of noisy preteen boys who came loudly into our movie theater when their flick was over. I asked them to please be quiet or I would get an usher and he would check their tickets. They silenced in an instant.
I was at the park with Zara and a group of 8 to 10 year olds were playing with large branches near the little kids. I said “Hey guys could you please play that elsewhere? You might accidentally hurt one of the little kids and then think how awful you would feel.”
At the pool this week a small group of 5 to 6 year olds were stepping on the fountains in spite of the lifeguard’s whistled command not to. Frankly she has more important things to watch out for. I said “Uh oh, you better not step on the fountains or you’ll get in trouble and your Mom will be mad at you! And they’ll turn off the fountains and we’ll all be mad at you!” They laughed and ran through the fountains.
Kids all know they are pushing the envelope and some reprimanding reminds them adults care and are watching out. Had a parent told me off for talking to their child, the child would have learned a whole different lesson.
As my principal used to say, put in the time and energy teaching and supporting them now or save up for lawyers for later. He just encourages people like me, public reprimanders.
And by the way, I did learn how long a football field is.
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