Friday, June 19, 2009

Somebody missed the point...

I got a comment from someone who was researching information on PJ days and things to do. She came across my post and all I can say is Wow! Did she miss the point. Here is Maria's comment left on this post - I have italicized her comment, and have written my responses... funny thing, she has a blogger account, but no blog. I view these people as hit and run bloggers. I actually like to call them Floggers - people who want to beat you down by their comments, but not allow you any access to their account because they don't have an actual blog. There's no way to have dialogue with this person except through my own blog. Don'tcha just love that?

Here goes:

I am a recent college graduate and about to enter the field of teaching, and currently a summer day camp counselor. As I was looking for PJ Day activities for our theme day tomorrow, I came across this blog. Your analogy of PJ Day fun to the "fun" racist people once had hanging African Americans is ludicrous, not to mention misleading and offensive.

The point I was making (which you missed entirely) was that just because something is done over and over again, which, in its repetition, becomes a “tradition”, does not make it right – no matter what excuse is used for “having fun.” Kenzie’s teacher’s explanation that pj day has “always been done” and it was “fun for the kids” is a tenuous argument - she could not provide a logical basis for doing something that was actually outside the original intent of what school is supposed to do – which is to educate our children – not to get them excited about doing something that they don’t do any other day of the year, let alone outside of the home on any consistent basis.

Also, I called what people did to African Americans in the past exactly what it was: terrorizing, torture, and to hang someone from a tree is murder by any definition. You are the one who took this totally out of context.

I came from a racist family. I have always hated and always will stand against racism, honey. I have to – I have two Chinese daughers who will have to deal with racism, and I need to set the example and show them that racism should never be tolerated or accepted in any way – whether directed toward them or others.

I respect your right to choose not to have your children participate in this potentially "dangerous" PJ day. And I don't know what kind of pajamas you dress your daughter in, but I'd be willing to bet that they would not be considered "intimate apparel". Most kids have brightly colored baggy matching comfy t-shirts and trousers.

In the same sentence you say you respect my right to choose, you've make a derisive inference that I'm (stupid/crazy/dumb/an idiot/whatever you want to put here) by calling PJ day "dangerous" as if that is what I posted?

Wow, that's some respect there, Maria.... and quite a leap in your interpretation of my post.

Again, you missed the point. It is dangerous to allow my children to participate year after year in questionable activities that have no educational value – it sends the wrong message to children. It is not a dangerous activity in and of itself - pj day will not incite the kids to riot or have sex or beat up on each other (or whatever!) just for participating in the one day - but pile that one day of questionable activity upon another and another, year after year, and then the kids get the message - that which is not allowed is fun and should be done. Kids are NOT stupid. That was my point.

Please re-read the entire post when you are of a calm mind, and please don’t just react to key buzzwords that set off those bells in your head. If all you listen to are the bells, they will occupy your mind and prevent you from thinking clearly.

By the way, Webster’s definition of intimate is as follows:

1 a: intrinsic, essential b: belonging to or characterizing one's deepest nature
: marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity <intimate knowledge of the law>
3 a
: marked by a warm friendship developing through long association <intimate friends> b: suggesting informal warmth or privacy <intimate clubs>
: of a very personal or private nature <intimate secrets>

My use of the word intimate for pj’s would be #4 – since we only wear pj’s in the home when we go to bed (or perhaps when we are sick). Can you tell me that you wear your pj’s outside of your home? I’ll bet not. (Make that: I hope not.)

And one final thing on this point – I consider recess, phys-ed, and field trips of educational value. I highly regard play as vital to a child’s development – physical, mental, and emotional.

Have you considered the psychological effect she will encounter by being left out of this fun activity? You need to get a grip and teach your child right and wrong without isolating them from society.

No, I just do things willy-nilly depending on the mood I'm in with no consideration for my daughter's feelings.

Ok - it felt good to make that facetious remark.

I consider very carefully what I am doing. I’m her mother – I am the one responsible for making sure she grows up safely and with a healthy self-esteem – and a lot of that comes from her understanding that she is loved and cared about by her family and that outsiders can’t/don’t have these same concerns for her. (And big surprise! She was not the only one in the school who was kept out by their parents.)

You further miss the point in this - do we (as parents) allow our kids to do everything all the other kids do so they don’t feel left out? Or do we teach our children to recognize a slippery slope and stand up for what is right or proper? I want her to learn to think about things for herself.

I walked her through a series of questions to make her think about what was going on and to help her understand that she needs to stand up for what is right – not to just blindly follow the crowd. It’s called having a backbone… you know, that rigid thing that runs down your back and allows you to stand up? If she doesn’t learn to use it, she’ll fall for anything that comes her way.

I have a grip on right and wrong. And that’s why I care about what she is exposed to by strangers. Keeping my kids out one day can hardly be considered isolating them from society. Um, who's stretching things now?

You completely contradicted yourself by not wanting your child to do something seen as taboo by society.

You fail to explain how. And evidently, other readers fail to have your “recent college graduate” insight on this contradiction. I, too, am a college graduate – magna cum laude, BS in Business Administration - and proud of it. And many of my readers are college graduates – with many more years of experience in life than you. What are we missing? Please enlighten us with your erudite observations.

This kind of thing reminds me of a sign my father used to have in his room. It read something like this:

Teenagers! Tired of being harassed by your stupid parents? Act NOW! Move out, get a job, and start paying your own bills while you still know everything!

My dad had a wonderful sense of humor.

But remember when it was taboo and unacceptable to drink out of the same water fountain as African Americans?

Previous paragraphs, please.

Are you overreacting? Absolutely.

NOT. Overreacting would be suing the school. Overreacting would be running in and screaming at the principal. Overreacting would be walking up and down the street in front of the school with a picket sign.

As a future teacher, unless you work for an ultra liberal school system that has ultra liberal parents’ children attending, you, too, will need to learn how to smile and say (with sincerity) that you respect the parents’ position and look forward to seeing the child the following day. Kenzie had a wonderful kindergarten teacher who was able to do just that. I respect her very much as a teacher. She did her best to get Kenzie in school for that day, however, she was also genuinely gracious and understanding of my stance with my daughter.

I put my thoughts and position on the issue politely in a letter to the principal, and she understands and supports parents' rights to approve whatever extra-curricular activities the parents disagree with... and to be honest - this kind of "program" is truly extra-curricular - not within the school's main focus.

I don’t believe in the “if it feels good, do it” mentality. When year after year there is something questionable being done in the school system under the guise of “it’s fun for the kids” and there’s no logical or reasonable connection to education – it is up to me to protect my children from that type of thinking and mentality.

Why not just take Kenzie out of school so you can shelter her from anything else taboo since you don't want her to "figure it out on her own". How do you think children learn? I can guarantee that it is not by their parents preaching.

Take Kenzie out of public school? Hmmmm.... tempting. Especially when I come across comments like yours from those upcoming teachers who think they know more than the parents about what their kids should be exposed to in school.

Gee, you’re right – parents preaching will tend to have the opposite effect. Looks like your education (whether it was from college or personal experience) has taught you something. However, as stated previously, I walked her through a set of questions to have her come to the conclusion that this is just not appropriate wear for school.

There is plenty of evidence and research that shows kids learn more from their parents in the early years than from any one else. If a parent lays the foundation, the child can build upon that. And when a parent gives a child a safe and loving home, and the child knows they can talk with their parents, and that their parents care about what happens to them, the children are less likely to follow the crowd, especially if they’ve been given the opportunity and taught how to think things out for themselves.

It takes a parent to help them learn this process – they aren't born knowing how to do this from birth. But if a parent doesn’t do their job and figures the kid will just learn stuff from the other kids – then that child will not have any foundation to build on.

Yes, kids can be led astray from the foundations laid by parents. No-brainer there. And that is facilitated - even encouraged - when parents begin to abdicate their responsibility to teach their kids right from wrong and leave it in the hands of the school or other caregivers – or when they just plain don’t care anymore after the child reaches a certain age.

Parenting isn’t just picking the kid up from a daycare or school and feeding it then putting it to bed. (Lest you further misinterpret that statement, I am talking about children as if they are objects to demonstrate how some parents do not treat their children as sentient beings and therefore needing more than just the basics of food and shelter. I have seen many a parent who believes that as long as they feed, clothe and give their kids a bed to sleep in, they have done their job.

It is completely disheartening when I know this is how the child is treated by his/her own parents. When you are teaching, you will learn to recognize the kids who come from families who parent and those who don’t.) I thank GOD that this is the exception to the vast number of parents in the world - most treasure their children beyond measure and would stand between their child and a charging lion (or rhino, or elephant, ect.).

The key is to be involved in a child’s life – talking with our children, taking advantage of those “learning moments” when you and your child see something that is considered bad or inappropriate behavior and discussing with your child about why it is bad, allowing him or her to participate in the conversation – that’s how kids learn – by active involvement. It is keeping the lines of communication open – to allow the child to express themselves and to actually listen to them – not to just give lip service of “uh-huh, uh-huh” as they talk. HEAR them, for real.

You have completely blown this out of proportion. Thank you for preparing me for the controlling and obnoxious parents I will probably encounter when I begin teaching.

Please remember that those “controlling” and “obnoxious” parents you are loathe to deal with in the future are the ones who are also paying your salary… Unless you will be teaching at a private school, you will be paid by state and federal funds, which come from us – the taxpayers – and that includes us “controlling” parents.

However, you are welcome… if this is preparing you for the parents who love their kids and who are more than aware of the pitfalls schools tend to go down and take action to protect their children from idealogy gone amuck… then I’m happy to be of service.

Your protestations make me wonder about your own childhood and relationship with your parents. Perhaps yours was not the happiest of upbringings. We reveal much about ourselves when we write… sometimes inadvertently… I know as a teenager and young adult, I had no respect for my parents and what they would tell me about life and my behaviors. At that time, and in my eyes, they were – in your words – controlling. Today, after living on my own for 18 years, then being married for 10.5 years and then with children in our home for the last 5 – I realize they were amongst the wisest people I have ever known. And that they loved me.

And just for the record, one final note:

I am making an assumption here that you don’t have kids. You don’t mention any, so I am going to make this observation based on the fact that most people who have kids and want to comment mention their children as a basis for their opinions.

I love it when someone who has never raised a child themselves tries to tell me how to raise my kids or that I’m wrong to parent the way I do. It never fails that someone who has no 24/7, full time, hands-on, bonded, attached, connected-heart-mind-and-soul experience with children thinks they know so much more than those of us who are forever our childrens' parents.

It's obvious to me that those who have no child-rearing experience have so much to teach those of us who are actually doing the job of rearing our children.

I know before adopting our daughters, I read tons of books and articles on child-rearing. But with all that knowledge in those books, nothing prepares you for the real thing. Nothing. When you have your own children, please share with us your experiences – you may find that your attitude might change a little in regards to how much you think you know about “controlling” parents and what they really want for their kids.

Good luck in your chosen profession, Maria.


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