I’ve known a lot of smart a-holes in my time. A lot of stupid ones too. Some days it seems like they must be cranking them out on conveyer belts and dropping them off at all public places I frequent. I’ve even had moments when I’ve been one; although I like to think it’s accidental and I try to avoid it. Are asshats bred or raised? Is it nurture or nature?
Monday night my son was really frustrated with his math homework assignment. It was causing undue stress and panic so I stepped in to help. He was working on statistics; figuring out the mean, median, and mode. He is in FOURTH GRADE. Suddenly I had a flashback to the night I went to a new parents kindergarten informational meeting. I was concerned about my child getting left on the bus, peeing his pants because he could not find the bathroom, and being traumatized by being separated from his mother for 3 hours (I know, I have issues, that’ll be another post.) The evening quickly turned into a battle about whole day vs half day kindergarten, and how would half day kids ever catch up to the whole day kids who are doing presentations on Power Point by the end of the year. Excuse me? That and the pressure we parents put on ourselves to make sure our kindergarteners are reading, writing, and doing basic math! Drill and kill! Drill and kill those 5 year olds.
What does this mean? It means we have some really friggin smart little people perched to inherit the earth! Hence, we can teach them Power Point in kindy and statistics in fourth grade.
But, where are the standardized tests on compassion? Kindness? Mercy? Acceptance? Joy? Or even environmental awareness? I get lost in this sea of grades, MAP testing, and academic excellence only to suddenly open my eyes and panic: Why are our high schoolers comitting suicide and bringing guns to school because of bullying? Why are drug rates among children as young as middle schoolers sky rocketing? Have we done away with teenage pregnancy and stds? Maybe those are the statistics that we should be teaching to them young.
Are the two issues related? Is there causality between pushing academics and developing social deviance? I have no idea! I sort of doubt it, but I do know that if we put half the energy into teaching our children to be accepting and loving towards one another, and into fostering a sense of self-worth, not just as individuals, but as a group, as we do into cranking out smart robots that perform well on standardized tests we certainly wouldn’t be any worse off.
How many “My Child is an Honor Roll Student” bumper stickers did you see today? How many “My child isn’t a bully” stickers did you see? Or how about, “My white, straight child willingly eats lunch with blacks and gays.” Maybe I’ll start publishing them. Would you buy, “My child loves Muslims, Jews, and Mormons” Or would you rather, “My child doesn’t judge a friend by her handbag.”
In the end, of that list of bumper stickers, the first one is not my biggest dream to be able to put on the bumper of my car. But sometimes I forget this as I stress and push my kids during homework time or test studying. I want my children to know that even if they fail statistics, they can still bring love and peace to this world through their words and actions. But where are the study guides to help me teach this? How is my teaching at home to compare to the asshattery that surrounds them day in and day out at school? There are no formal assessments on learning morals and values. Where are the statistics on that? Oh yes, I have my church and religious school for the kids… but is it enough?
Sometimes I lay awake at night worrying about my children’s academic success. Perhaps what I should be worrying about is having my home infested by little a-holes of my creation, or the flipside; having my children’s spirits crushed by other children (and adults) who simply haven’t learned how not to hurt others, and the world, with their words and actions.
Tonight we’ll be hugging and singing Kumbaya in the backyard… feel free to wear patchouli and join us. Shaving and bathing not required, just be nice!