Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why are Kids Such Bastards?

With all the incessant stories about the bailout (incremental nationalization?), and my general boredom with the subject, I've got to find something different to talk about. I'll save my true vitriol for the final obscene politiplan.

I came across a couple of stories about kids in school. As my younglings are not quite there yet (preschool for both next year I hope), I follow these stories primarily to learn what to expect, what to do, and what not to do, especially since my happy days in damnation (Catholic school) were an exercise in alienating and unmotivating a child. Plus, it gives me a chance to talk about discipline, which for some perverse reason gets me off when I get to lay the smack down.

The first story is a a question of free speech versus school discipline.

This one comes to us from Colorado. The school asked kids to wear red, white and blue to show their patriotism. So the little 11-year-old drone in question shows up in the provocative number you see to the right. As the teachers observed this was becoming a disruptive presence, they asked him to turn it inside out or face suspension. He took the suspension. Now his wingnut daddy (proof that Sarah Palin is as far from trailer trash as Obama), who is about as programmed with propaganda (which explains his little ankle biter) as the most mindless moonbat, plans to sue the school for violating his son's freedom of speech, since it's because the school is just "full of liberal loons.”

The second story pits the school discipline against free expression.

This one comes from the great state of Ohio, where some 13-year-old goth puke wants to wear black lipstick and eyeliner to school. The school said no; his lobotomom said she'll buy him pink then started calling lawyers.

I'm all for freedom of speech and expression. Hell, you've seen my freedom of speech and expression in full blather mode on occasion. But there are rules designed to keep the schools from spiralling out of control. Both these kids willfully broke those rules. And their parents, in theri infinite lack of wisdom, want to bring the lawyers into it to empower their little bastards to be insipid dickwits as they grow up. I don't really care what the future Ron Paul masturbator's shirt says or why the upcoming goat fucker has to go with the eyeliner. It's a principle as to why the school exists, and what parents should do to teach their children.

Neither of these parents seem to understand that there are several lessons to learn here.

1. School is for learning shit, not "expressing yourself." This doesn't mean the school should turn the kids into automotons, but there has to be a little conformity to keep the budding horndogs and crazies from turning a school day into insanity. This is probably why I don't have a problem with uniforms. On a side note, I do wish I had a Catholic schoolgirl uniform story to share, but alas!

2. Real individuality and rebellion is in the mind. If you look at the back of my car, you won't find a bumper sticker. I am considering a FairTax one, but haven't quite brough myself to it yet. My youngest sister likes the tatooing and the piercing, but she's not the politically alive one of the three. I'm probably the most expressive and radical of my family, but it all exists in my mind. With the blog here, I have a place I can lay it out. The best way to prove your individuality is not to look like a douche.

3. Discipline is a good thing. Here's where we should take these asshat parents out to the woodshed, get a switch of a young tree, and wear it out on their dumb asses for wasting the time of the courts when they should be telling their kids the first two points, suck it up, take your fucking lumps, and don't whine like a little bitch with a skinned knee and shit. I'm guessing Dann the Hillbilly Extreme is shooting to make his son an inbred mini-me rather than an intelligent, thinking young man. And freakazoid's mommy is probably feeling guilty for getting him a Winnie the Pooh tattoo when he was six, so she's helping him be extra cool now. In reality, their actions have just given their kids the lesson that you can sue if you don't get your way.

Very simply, you set rules. You can bend them under certain circumstances, but if the rules are set and the kids cross the line, asses will be beaten (and that's not metaphorically). And while I use a variety of punishments just to keep the kids on their toes, I take nothing off the table. If it works for 21st century foreign policy, it works for child rearing. You just have to be willing to play to win. I haven't lost yet.

I figger I've got about a decade before you parents of teenagers will be checking back to see if I'm shell-shocked yet.


Dave Miller said...

Maybe it is not the kids, but the parents.

What 11 year old kid is thinking about freedom of speech issues?

Maybe he needs to get out more often. You know, experience life. Etc.

Beth said...

Those Catholic girls' uniforms had built in chastity belts you know.

Beth said...

Of course the saying "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" comes to mind, but also like in the case of the mother, too many parents want to be their kids' best friend, which is why they allow bad behavior. Not unlike the government bailing out bad behavior from bad loans (to buy our love) when those people need tough love, man!

Patrick M said...

Dave: Was I too easy on the parents? In that case, substitute the brutal whipping scene from The Passion of the Christ for the woodshed.

Saw the interview with the kid and his dad. The boy would benefit from a month in San Francisco with a gay couple. The culture shock alone might make him non-drony.

Beth: Are you speaking from experience? *bad patrick!*

There is something for kids fearing their parents' wrath sometimes. My kids do. :)

Toad734 said...

So Mike has kids and lives in Colorado?? I thought he was a single cat guy in South Carolina.

Although I agree that schools aren't there for the kids to "express themselves", I don't feel that either of them should have been suspended. Exactly what rules were they breaking? The no lipstick rule? I am sure plenty of students at that school wear lipstick. I guess they should have their freedoms up to the point of distracting the rest of the students. But that being said schools could outlaw homosexuality, being Mexican, etc.

Toad734 said...

I meant to say homosexuals, not man-ass-banging in particular as a homosexual act.

Patrick M said...

Toad: I think you and Mike need to hug.

Tubby in the anti-O t was suspended for willful disobedience for failing to turn the shirt when it became a distraction. Similar thing for the lipstick freak when they gave him soap.

And I think there's laws against suspending kids on race or sexual orientation. But they'd probably ban anybody caught ass-banging in school, gay or straight. It's pretty distracting, especially if you're the bitch.

I guess they should have their freedoms up to the point of distracting the rest of the students.


Patrick M said...

Toad: BTW, did you ever mention anything to your old lady about your obsession with both Mike and man-ass-banging? :)

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I spent 11 years in Catholic school.

It was a very upper-middle environment in which conformity was actively and aggressively encouraged.

I was (and still am) neither very upper-middle nor conformist.

I got in a lot of trouble for expressing myself.

I don't think either of these situations can be judged at arms' length. You need to know the kid, know if it's just some bullshit thing for attention or whether the kid is honestly an individual looking for expression.

I think suing a school is pushing it a bit too far, but I still don't think that you can judge from this far away.

I bent every rule I couldn't break and I challenged the status quo every single day. I questioned authority in an environment where such things were anathema and I insisted on being myself regardless of the consequences, which were, admittedly sometimes severe.

I still do this. Every day.

There's nothing wrong with it, if it's honest. You can't tell what kinds of kids these are or what their motivations are. If they're full of shit, then the hell with them. But if they're honestly taking a stand against a repressive environment, then good for them.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

And Patrick?

I *WAS* the chick in the black bra with the white button down dress shirt, the hemmed-up uniform skirt and the fishnet stockings with lace anklets and 4" stilettos.

Oh, and a black silk tie. I always wore a black silk tie. Very loosely, cause the shirt was unbuttoned way the hell down.

I was also virtually the only kid who had a job. I worked 4-midnight doing data entry for Guideposts Magazine, five days a week. (Child labour laws? WTF are those?)

I had a 1955 Chevy that I paid for myself, including the maintenance, all the insurance and the gas it took to drive 25 miles to school, 35 from school to work and then 10 home. I was also responsible for paying the phone bill. I had my own checking account and an AmEx card by my junior year.

I graduated in the top 10 of my class, got a Regents scholarship and was the only one in 3 counties with a perfect score on the AP English exam.

The point of all this self-aggrandizement is that despite the fact that I had a nonstop, noisy feud with school administration for every minute of my entire highschool career, and despite the fact that I looked like an extra from The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, I was actually a smart kid who not only had the ducks in a row, but had them singing L'Internationale in three languages.

You can't judge these kids from where you sit. You can't see enough of the picture from where you're at.

Patrick M said...

Saty: If you notice, most of my anger is with the parents. They're the real idiots here. And their actions are damaging to their children.

The makeup kid is a developing and local story, so I don't have all the info there yet, thus I include him, but minimally. Any judgment is mainly for humor.

The Colorado kid, however, was very much his daddy's little drone. The wingnut and his mini-me were on Hannity and Colmes the other night. Hearing him speak tells me he's pretty much programmed. Watch this vid and tell me I'm wrong about him.

You broke the rules and paid the consequences. It sucks, but you learn from it (except maybe in your case). These kids are getting lawyers through their parents when they break the rules. That's a bad thing.

Also, if you missed it, I'm not big on the conformity either (but not as much as you). Especially since I couldn't seem to conform to my years in the Catholic schoolage.

Toad734 said...

But like I said, a black kid in an all white school can be a distraction, so could the one openly gay kid. So at what point is the the responsibility of all the parents to teach their kids to just deal with different people? I think you will remember that the lack of understanding of peoples differences led to Columbine.

I remember having a Metallica Metal Up your Ass shirt on in H.S. They made me tape up the word ass and told me not to wear it again. I understood because it had the word "ass", which is apparently not to be spoken by H.S. students but if a girl can wear lipstick why can't a dude? And are kids allowed to wear Obama pins for instance? If they are allowed to express themselves politically at all, the stupid brainwashed, illinformed shirt kid should also be allowed. It doesn't mean he shouldn't get his ass kicked but why not allow it? I just don't think the rules are all that clear in these schools and there are a lot of double standards. This leads to the singling out of students they don't like. If the captain of the football team came in with eyeliner and lipstick as a gag no one would question it.

Toad734 said...

On the flip side, anything that teaches H.S. kids that life sucks, it isn't fair, get over it, no one cares about you, you are not special, I am all for it.

Patrick M said...

Toad: Anything can be distracting. But the school has to draw lines where they can.

So at what point is the the responsibility of all the parents to teach their kids to just deal with different people?

It's still there. But we're talking kids.

And Columbine was caused by bad kids, and parents who didn't do their damned jobs. Trust me, by the time I got out of high school, I had already come up with something along the lines of Columbine, complete with laughter and suicide. I just had sense and parents who would have noticed my obsession and kicked my ass first. Plus, for me it was just a story. If I ever find it, I'll have to share it.

Now as for the school rules, some of them are asinine. I think there was one where a kid got in trouble for wearing a shirt with the American flag on it. That one blew back on the school, of course. I'd say it's a balancing act, and one that's going to get looked at on a case-by-case basis. But until the parents and the school can discuss it, the point stands that the school rule is law, and defying that deserves a booting, and shouldn't involve lawyers.

Oh, and high school teaches kids that life sucks, etc. Mission Accomplished!

Out of curiosity, do you still have that shirt? That would be some sweet pre-Kill 'Em All vintage.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Metallica sucks, yall.

The best thing that ever came from Metallica is Dave Mustaine, and he's a better songwriter (and Megadeth's a better band) than any of them will ever be.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

And here's another thought. If you have a kid, even in middle school, who has on this anti-Obama shirt, why not engage him in some serious thought about it? Why not ask him to write a paper on his beliefs? Put him on a debate team? Create a debate team if you don't already have one?

Does the highschool kid take any art classes? How is he expressing himself? Is he allowed to express himself? Can you engage him in some creative pursuits, let him write lyrics for his English class or something?

I got in an enormous amount of trouble in my junior year for questioning why my 'World Religions' class included Judaism, Buddhism and Islam, but not Protestantism. I was told I didn't need to know about Protestants. What was initially simple curiosity on my part became a mission to find out what was so wrong with Protestants that it was felt expedient to not teach me about them. I officially left the Church two weeks after I graduated.

Apart from religious subjects, I quoted Mao and Marx, agitated for the Young People's Socialist League, organized boycotts against veal on the grounds of cruelty, wrote term papers on the psychology of Pink Floyd and expended major amounts of energy in circumventing The System. A smarter system would have found ways within itself for me to express what all was going on. Instead, I was pretty much just dancing on my own out there. The fact that my grades were so consistently high did a lot to mitigate the trouble I was consistently getting in. It's hard for an administration to kick out someone whose grades, etc., make their statistics look good. (Though they did threaten it..)

It does remain to be said for the sake of honesty that less than three years later my life was a complete chemically-aggravated catastrophe. Wasn't the school's fault, but four years of feeling like The Lone Gunman probably didn't help.

Of course, that also eventually passed and I became the stellar example of The Left-Of-Liberal American Adult that you see today.

And here's this. It's important that you don't just throw out the 'because I said so' shit. I never bought that from my parents. I'd ask 'why'. Always. And they'd give me a reason. Letting me understand and be part of the process (as opposed to just a recipient or victim of it)made a huge difference. To this day, even when I'm dealing with kids (or patients) and trying to get a certain behaviour from them I'll explain the reason why, and why it's to their advantage to behave in that way. Generally, it works. And it shows some respect. Just because they're kids doesn't mean they don't deserve respect. If you treat people intelligently, and you deal with them fairly and rationally, it's my experience that they will often live up to your expectations. Treat them like subjects, objects, like they're stupid or like they don't deserve to be respected or involved in decisions that involve them, and you get rebellion.

I don't have kids. I'm not a parent. But kids are little people, not little toys or little slaves or little chattels. They deserve to be treated like people and not just force-fed dogma until they become little robots. (Isn't that what the QuiverFull movement is all about?) Personally, I respect a kid who makes an honest stand against authoritarianism... IF it's an honest stand.

But we've moved into principles here. We're all too far away to judge this one in specific.

Patrick M said...

Whoa now, let's not get all anti-Metallica here. If you're specifically talking St Anger, we're cool, otherwise, them there are fightin' words. Like talking about people liking Yanni and shit.

And now to the less important stuff....

In this specific sitch, the kid was a carbon copy of his blatherbot father. There really wasn't much of a debate there. But the idea is most certainly sound. The challenge is to do it without the teacher imposing a POV.

If we go much farther, we'll really be getting into the failings of government education, or parochial madness in your case. But in general, the key to really teaching is to make it personal. And there are far too many teachers out there who aren't smart enough to do just that.

About the "because I said so" argument: Don't like it, and I don't use it on my children. I usually give them a reason, even if they're not asking. But once I give that reason, it's do it or be punished. That will, of course, change somewhat as they get older, but there is a point to authority. Not authority for authority's sake, but as a requirement for a functioning society.

Simple example: even in your most rebellious, would you start ignoring red lights?

I hope your answer is no, of course. Because we have to have laws and rules just to function as a society, and we need authorities because we have free will.

I don't have a problem with people challenging authority on logical arguments, especially when the rules are simply bullshit. But when there are rules, there are consequences for breaking them. And while you suffered, you did so knowing you willingly broke those rules.

Rules and structure are created primarily to protect the rights of the individual. And schools have to teach this so we have fewer deviations. It's one of those balancing acts that nobody ever will get right, because that's what makes humanity interesting.

Of course, I'll leave all the fun of deviation on this to you. You're better at it than I am.