Scary Days Ahead

It was the first day of school. Nobody could prepare me for this. My mom said it would be fun. My friends were excited that we would have more time at school together. My teacher the previous year said that the next year would be even better.

However, I was scared.

Mrs. Johnson only looked nice in the school pictures. In person she was a different person. Yeah, some of the kids liked her. But not me. She was Dorothy’s wicked witch to me. All she was missing on that first day of school was green skin and a big wart on her chin. Well, I guess she didn’t have the black pointed hat or black dress or striped socks or black shoes. Instead she had black hair and big rimmed glasses.

She was younger then my previous teacher but she was still old. Older than my mom that is. And to me that meant she was going to be strict. And she was. But that was 36 years ago. I was six years old. It was first grade.

My worst memory that year came during the winter. Our classroom had it’s own bathroom at the back. And next to the bathroom door was an outside door that led to the playground. It made for some great convenience when playing took higher priority than running off to the bathroom when the urge came on. There were some close calls that could have been terrible experiences for many kids had the bathroom been any further away from that door.

But one day, that urge came to one particular student and what could have been a close call turned in to a horrible experience. Why? Not because child wanted to continue playing until the last moment possible before running off to the toilet. No, in this case the student decided to head right away to the bathroom. But relief was not to be on that particular day.

The teacher was enjoying her 15 minutes of freedom while the kids were at recess. She didn’t want to be bothered at all. Especially with any kids that would be opening the outside door and letting the cold wind blow inside. So on this particular occasion, the student with the potty urge was denied access. Upon coming through the door a loud, stern voice sent a command to turn right around and head back outside.

After pleading his case, after begging to be able to use the bathroom, the student was given an ultimatum of going back outside or getting privileges taken away. Actually, the privileges would be taken away no matter what if he didn’t leave immediately. How long it took him to leave would determine how many privileges would be taken away.

But the kid had to go pee really bad. She didn’t care. He couldn’t hold it any longer.

I have a hard time deciding what was the worst part of that experience. First of all, there was the puddle on the floor that all of my classmates would see as then came inside from recess. Next, they would know it was me because there I was in wet pants. Third, I knew when the teacher saw the mess I would be dead meat. What is a boy to do?

Well, she told me to go back outside…so I did. Wet pants in below freezing weather. A playground full of kids that would for sure notice my pants. It was really enjoyable. NOT!!!

At the end of the playground was an undeveloped field. On the other side of the field was a park. Through the park and across the street was a church. And behind that church was my house. I ran.

I cried the whole way home.

When I got home I told my mom what had happened. I changed my clothes into something dry. I drank some hot chocolate. And then I was taken back to school. I don’t remember if my mom talked with the teacher or not. All I remember is that I didn’t want to be in her class any more. She was a mean lady in my mind and she didn’t like me at all.

I was six years old. I was scared.

Tomorrow my youngest goes off to start the first grade. She too is six years old. But she is blessed. Mrs. Johnson retired a long time ago. She might even be dead.

Starting a new school year can be a scary experience for kids. Whether it is because they are changing schools or because they are going to have a teacher that they have never met, a new school year can cause a bit of anxiety. Add to that the pressure that parents put on their children to do their best in class, to pay attention, to get all homework done, etc. It is a surprise at times that we don’t have kids experiencing panic attacks more often.

So what can I as a parent do to help my child have a better experience than me? Well, gratefully the teachers are more considerate, patient, and understanding at the elementary school that my kids go to. But I can also help my daughter to learn to be more cognizant of what is going on with her…in all aspects. If we teach our kids to be responsible for themselves, they will have more success than I had on that cold winter day. Walking home with frozen pants isn’t fun.

I don’t want my daughter to do that.

Kids, there are 180 school days in the year. I am sure that more than one of them will be a little bit scary. Go forward and conquer it.

Parents, there are 180 school days in the year and you won’t be able to watch your child and protect them every minute that they are at school. Some days will be a little bit scary. Teach your child correctly, trust them to make correct decisions, and let everything else fall into place on its own.

And if you are a teacher, please let the child that is about to look control of his bodily functions use the bathroom. It will save a mess on the floor and in their clothes, it will save the child from teasing, ridiculing, and over all feeling bad. Most of all, it will save that child’s dignity. And we all know how important that can be.

Just another view from a Palmtree.

Newsworthy Parenting

If I ever want to get a pulse on the nation and how well we are doing, I mostly go to Twitter or Facebook.  If I want to see a bunch of negative stories that paint a very bleak picture, I watch my favorite news channel…or at least go to their website.  There is so much negativity that is reported that it makes me feel like my kids don’t have a very favorable future to live in.  And when I see stories about negligent, even abusive parenting, I understand why.  What are the leaders of tomorrow learning from the parents of today?

I read an article yesterday that talked about children being removed from their home after it was discovered that they were living in abusive circumstances.  There were 10 adults and 11 children living in a 1700 square foot house.  Those are some cramped quarters, but not enough to be considered abusive.  Unless you consider that some of the kids were restrained in harnesses.  Maybe the adults wanted more room for themselves.  Regardless, that is where the issue of abuse was raised.

I don’t understand why they did it.  Okay, maybe I do.  There are times when my own kids (especially when they have some friends over) can get a bit hyper in their behavior and run around the house like wild monkeys.  At those times, a harness could be useful.  But I still wouldn’t use one even if the thought crossed my mind.  There are other ways to get them under control.  Plus, I always have the option of sending them outside where the neighbors can enjoy it too.

But somehow, I don’t think that is the reason the kids in this story were harnessed.

What terrible thing did they do to deserve it?

Maybe we should punish the parents by doing the same thing.  Let’s put them in harnesses and limit their movements.  I don’t think they would like it.  It could be worse than prison.  After all, in prison you get to move around.  I’ll bet the average prison cell is bigger in floor size than what these kids had to move around on.

The kids are in foster homes now.  I hope they are free to run and play and be kids.  And I hope they feel loved in those homes, because that is what they need.

Many studies would support the claim that if they had remained in the conditions they were found, they would grow up to be abusive parents also.  It is hard to break the cycle.  And what good, what improvement is that making on society?

They might turn out to be like the guy I read about in another story yesterday that evicted his mother from her house…on her 98th birthday.  Disrespectful if you ask me.  I don’t know why he turned on his mom.  Maybe she had harnessed him when he was a child too.  I doubt it, but there was something.  Just like these other kids.

I guess what I like is when I read stories of people that show respect to their parents and actually make them a priority.  Take as an example Steven Colbert.  Last week he abruptly, and mysteriously cancelled two tapings of this show “The Colbert Report”.  Nobody knew why and the rumors started swirling.  Maybe he was actually going to run for President of the United States and was getting his campaign in order.

Turns out, he was taking time off because of his ailing mother.

At least he wasn’t evicting her from her house.

But not only did he take time away from work to do that, he paid tribute to her (without identifying her) on his first show back.  That is a son that loves and respects his mom.  That is what we need more of.

As I go about being a parent, I am always hoping that I am raising my kids correctly, teaching them respect, and letting them know that I love them.  I also try to be respectful as a child.  I know it can be hard at times in either role.  You know what I mean.  But if I try harder, and my kids try harder, and everyone else and their kids all try harder, would we have all the violence, dishonesty, thievery, and other problems that plague society today?  No.

Jesus said, “…love one another, as I have loved you .”  It is a commandment.  Parents especially should abide by it.  And you don’t have to be Christian to know that it is sage advice.

I hope those kids that were harnessed learn that lesson.  I hope my own kids already know it.  If not, I have work to do.

Just another view from a Palmtree.