I had my agnostic brother and my sister who says she’s Christian over for dinner the other night. We had a great time and got into some pretty deep conversations that were interesting and fun. We got off on politics and that led to the local school system. My sister seems to think the downfall of the local public school system is the lack of a prayer/devotional time like we used to have in the good ole days. Never mind that some students had to excuse themselves and stand in the hallway during that time.
My brother and I both seemed to agree that the downfall was a lack of parental involvement and discipline. It used to be that when you got into trouble at school you knew you’d get into trouble at home, too, if it became too much of a problem for the school to deal with. None of us ever had that problem because we knew that if the teacher had a talk with mom and dad we’d be dead meat. Now days if a child gets into trouble at school the parents go down to the school and rip two trips off the teacher for having the audacity to discipline their child. That is if the the teacher can actually get in touch with a parent. In our little community there are probably a good 60 percent or more of students who are being raised by a grandparent, an aunt or their older siblings. It’s not pretty. I digress…
At some point during the conversation my brother in law said, “When I was a kid I knew if I got a paddling at school I was going to get it when I got home, too.” My parents didn’t have that rule. They generally allowed the school to handle our discipline while we were there. If the school couldn’t handle it, if we became so unruly that the teacher had to make a call home, then they’d get involved and we definitely did not want that. In the spirit of us being independent and able to take care of ourselves our dad had an additional rule. He’d better not hear of us starting a fight, but if someone started one with us we’d better defend ourselves. “Don’t come home crying to me about it. If somebody else starts it you better finish it.” That’s what my dad always said. The only time I can remember getting into trouble at home for something that happened at school was the time a boy bit me on the school bus and I came home crying about it. My dad asked me what I did about it and I told him nothing. I got into trouble for not taking up for myself.
Kids being kids I got bullied a little – not a lot – in school. My older sister took up for me usually. She looked at me and said, “You’ve always been like that; letting people run all over you. Why are you like that? You never took any crap off of me.” She’s pretty feisty. Kind of like John Wayne toilet paper, that one. Rough and tough and doesn’t take any crap off of anyone.
The truth is I’d rather be hurt than do the hurting. That has caused me to be a doormat in the past. Clearly she’s puzzled by that. Clearly we weren’t raised that way. I’m not sure why I’m like that, but I know that I am. I try to steer clear of confrontational situations. I hate the thought of injuring someone else whether it be their pride, their feelings or their person.
I’m learning, though. It’s hard, but I’m learning. Sparing someone else isn’t always the best thing – for me or them. I’m learning to take up for myself. Who knows? Before I’m done I may have a little John Wayne in me, too.