Like many of you, my life has revolved around school in the fall for most of my life. I was an eager student. I loved school and couldn’t wait to begin. When the sister right above me in age left for school, I would stand by the front window just waiting for her to get home. Upon her arrival home she would sit me down in our shared bedroom and teach me everything she had learned that day. To this day I love books and learning.
Seems like yesterday I was walking to school with two of my big sisters. The oldest one was in Jr High and walked a different direction or she would have been there to boss us. My tiny fist grasped my small coin purse with my lunch money tucked in it. We didn’t have that far to walk, only about a mile. We would set out early and laugh and giggle along the way. My older sisters would help me get dressed and then momma fixed our hair.
Momma liked the tight, tight braids with our bangs pulled back into them. We could hardly blink at times. There were days she would cover our heads with polyester scarves to keep the wind out of our ears. I had long, thick hair and the scarf came off about the time we turned the first corner. I wasn’t brave enough to pull out the braids but the scarf did not often accompany me into the school yard. My sister, next in age to me, would keep her scarf on and snivel all the way to school.
“Just take it off. Momma won’t know,” I would counsel.
She would cry harder, “Momma will find out.” I thought she was silly but it was part of learning to be responsible for ourselves. I finally talked her into at least loosening the braids so that her head didn’t hurt. The scarf could be lost if one was willing.
I didn’t have any trouble following my own counsel through school. Some things just didn’t need to happen. Of course, momma had different opinions, especially if she was informed. Along about Jr High, momma decided I had to wear a brassiere to school. I disagreed with that silly notion. I did not need one! As soon as we got to school I would slip it off and hang it in my locker. I thought I was so smooth that no one noticed but one night at supper, momma asked me about what was hanging in my locker.
I gave her my best deer in the headlights look. I could see my just older sister trying to hold in a giggle so I knew she had told on me. Of all things! I didn’t care if she wanted to take off her dratted scarf all those years back so why should she care if I decided I wasn’t ready for a bra? Looking back I can see my mother’s point but my first days of Jr. High were a misery trying to acclimate myself to a new grown up version. None the less, after momma found out I never hung my bra in the locker again.
And now, it seems that kids are being encouraged to be mini adults in their dress but perpetual two-year olds in their behavior. I might have fussed over braids or personal clothing choices but when I went to school, I went to school to learn. If I misbehaved it was ALWAYS my fault. The teacher was never at fault. In fact my teachers and my parents were in cahoots to make me a better person. If I failed to behave in school I had many consequences. First, one of my sisters would tell momma. Second, my teacher would tell momma, and Third daddy would somehow get involved. Then I got in trouble.
I was responsible for my behavior. I was responsible for my homework being completed, hauled to school, and turned in. I was responsible for the way I treated others and I was responsible for my lunch money. If I lost it on the way I didn’t get to eat lunch. My momma and daddy were there to support me right after they supported my teacher.
Yesterday I listened to a young man tell someone else that he was getting a new job because he no longer wanted to be in the classroom teaching. They asked what was wrong and he did not fuss about education in general or the lack of salary or that he had to buy his own supplies. He did not mention that kids were just harder to teach these days. The reason he quit teaching was because of the parents. He stated, “I am tired of fighting the parents. A kid can fail the class and the parent will threaten to sue if the grade is not changed.”
Is it any wonder this new generation does not feel any responsibility for their behavior?
Maybe education does not begin with braids or bras, but the education of our children definitely begins with the parents.
A big shout out to the teachers who have realized that July is almost over and they WILL be called back from the beaches soon.