A couple of weeks ago, I was walking across the parking lot toward the school. A teenager was getting out of her mom's car. I heard her mom ask, "Do you have your lunch money?" The girl snapped back, "Yeah, I got it." Her mom then said, "Have a good day. Love you." The girl responded with an eye roll and a sarcasm laced "Mmm-mmh." She slammed the door and mom drove away.
I wanted to walk over to the delightful young lady and shake her 'til her teeth hurt.
Now, it wasn't that many years ago that I was a teenager, and I am the first to admit that I wasn't always a beacon of kindness. I had my moments of moodiness and smart mouthiness (is that a word? It is now). I'm sure there were times my momma wanted to beat me with a stick. But there is NO WAY I could have ever grunted at my mother when she said she loved me. And I would have never said goodbye to anyone I loved in such a rude and careless way.
My mother never let us leave the house angry. Perhaps it was morbid, but she taught us from a young age that you never know when you say goodbye to someone if you'll ever see them again. Even if we weren't getting along, we always tried to be pleasant when we said goodbye and we ALWAYS said "I love you."
So many of the students I teach feel it is their God-given right to say whatever they want, however they want to say it. Kindness and forgiveness are weaknesses. If it is even perceived that they are being disrespected, they will retaliate in a number of ways with no regard to what punishment they may receive. For example, one of my students walks by another student's desk and inadvertently steps on their foot/purse/ bookbag. The owner of said foot/purse/bookbag jumps up and yells, "You need to watch where you're f***ing going!" or "Get the f*** up off my foot!" I write up the person who is yelling for disrupting and cursing. The whole time, the student argues with me, claiming it was his or her right to go off on the person.
The sad thing is that many of the parents condone this type of behavior. I mean, c'mon, my parents taught me to defend myself, but I would have been grounded into a permanent Amish existence if I had ever acted like that. Even worse, these parents will defend their children for going off on an adult. I have heard mothers say, "Well that teacher needed cussing out!" I could have only been so "lucky." I can only remember two times that I ever even remotely went off on a teacher. Once was in 7th grade. A student teacher deliberately bounced a basketball off my butt and laughed about it. I called him "Mr. Tater Head" and "butthole" (his last name was Tate). Turns out, I wasn't the first girl he harassed and he was not allowed to return. BUT I didn't get off scot-free. I was punished for being disrespectful. The second time I snapped at a teacher I really can't defend myself. I told her she was being a bitch (well, she was). I got in trouble for it at school and at home. This wasn't a teacher my mother even liked, but she told me that didn't give me the right to cuss at her.
For some of my students, "clicking" on a teacher is a daily occurrence. They view us as their equals, or even worse, less than their equal. I have seen a guy dog cuss a teacher for asking him to pull up his pants. I have heard a girl threaten to "jack up" a teacher who wrote her up. Heck, I had a girl cuss me out for offering her a tissue (long story). When did this become accessible? Obviously these kids aren't getting in any real trouble at home for these occurrences. If they knew there was any type of severe punishment, I can't believe they would continue this behavior, especially on a regular basis.
And it's not just the verbal disrespect. So help me God, if another freshman rolls her eyes at me, I'm gonna pluck 'em out of her head and wear them as a necklace. There's nothing worse that getting an eye roll from someone who can't even drive or vote.
I can't imagine how these kids will ever keep a job. Some may argue, "But they're just teenagers. They'll grow out of it." I don't believe that. I believe most teens grow out of the moodiness, but if you're fourteen and calling an adult a mothereffer to his face, you've got some issues. I've asked some of these kids, "What will you do if you have to work for a boss you don't like?" They all tell me they'll quit and find a new job. Sadly, they probably will quit; as for a new job, who knows if there will be one. Just another mouth for the rest of us to feed.
Parents, I know the majority of you are teaching your kids respect and kindness. If you aren't, please do the rest of us a favor. Don't allow your kid to trash talk or back talk you and get away with it. If you do, they will do it to the rest of us. Be the parent. Not their friend, not their buddy. Their parent. Your kid's future depends on it in more ways than one. 'Cause let me tell you--I use a great deal of self restraint now but when I'm an old fart, I'll claim senility and mow one of these brats down with my scooter if they roll their eyes at me.