Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lowering the Bar

I discovered last night that someone apparently lowered the bar and changed the rules of decorum for parenting somewhere along the way. I was at the first PTA meeting of the year for my oldest daughter's school. Shocker I know....I'm an actively participating parent...HA! We arrived five minutes before it was scheduled to begin as I was always taught it more polite to be early than late to an event. To my absolute shock, we were the first ones there. What????? Finally around 7:10 p.m. the room was in full buzz with about 60 people, including parents, children and teachers, so they called the meeting to "order".

Yeah, it's that "order" thing that is stuck in my craw this morning. To me, when a meeting is called to order that means it's officially underway and we're all paying attention, seated quietly and participating. Apparently that's what we call an "old school" definition as there was not one shred of order in that room for the next 35 minutes.

For those of you playing along at home, I have ears like a bat; why yes, I can hear, as the saying goes, a mouse fart in the other room, so I get it that I'm a bit sensitive to noise.....but come on! What I witnessed last night was not due to my sensitive ears, it was totally due to the lowering of the bar and the new non-tactile expectations of parenting in the suburbs. See, I've had an issue with this for years, but man, last night really sent me into a tizzy! During that entire meeting, not one parent asked for quiet or for the kids to sit down. Not one teacher said a word in protest. The principal himself simply stood in the back of the room writing in some notebook and was otherwise oblivious to the entire experience. What??????? (And no, I didn't say anything as I sat there with my child, as a new parent to the school, in shock!)

Now I've been called a strict parent before, and for a while I took a bit of offense to that label; however, as day breaks on this bright Wednesday morning, the day after the PTA rodeo, I now see that statement as a badge of honor and a sincere compliment! Darn tootin' I'm a strict parent! Why, my child sat with me quietly for the entire meeting, never once protesting my insistence at her silence (in fact, I don't remember ever having to tell her to be quiet); never once darting up from her seat to dash across the room while a board member attempted to relay pertinent PTA information. Nope, my child sat happily, contently beside me the entire time. And yes, she did partake in the ice cream sundae stand they set-up, but she also ate it without smacking and cleaned-up her own mess, a claim that none of the children also sitting at our table can dare make.

When did this happen? When did we decide that parenting no longer involved the teaching of respecting our elders and the idea of common courtesy? At what point did we as a society take on the belief that children should be allowed to run amuck in restaurants, school events and church gatherings? Why is it now okay for children to be taught "helplessness" instead of being taught how to do for themselves? What kind of future adults are we creating?

Look, I'm not saying that children shouldn't be allowed to be children for heaven sake; no, I'm just saying that if I've been to pep-rallies that were more controlled than this PTA meeting, then perhaps it's time to revisit our collective parenting expectations and responsibilities and raise that bar back up a bit. Think about it, when was the last time you heard a child say "yes sir" or "thank you" without being prompted? Taking a minute to pinpoint that moment are you? Well then, that's too long.

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