Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A parent, a pack mule, not.

Every morning when we drop the twins off at school and on the occasion that I am in school at lunch time with Evan, I feel like I am abusing my children. I am surrounded by parents, grandparents, helpers who carry everything for their child while the kid saunters ahead. The only kids that don't have anyone carrying their bags are those who are walking up to school on their own.

Since I am walking with either Jordan or Evan to the school gate from the car (we park a mile's away rather than do the queue-and-wait routine to drop the kid at the door step of the school), I ought to be the pack mule. But I am the one sauntering or rushing them along with their back packs, lunch bags and water bottles in hand. 

Sometimes I half expect to be told off for it, especially within the school grounds because my poor kid has got to carry so many things, in an ocean of swirling kids with their whoevers carrying their stuff.

Anyway, I haven't caved and the reason is a deep seated one which I often call an occupational hazard. We teach kids at the other end of the spectrum, the ones that have spent 12 years in our formal academic system and are just about to graduate and are almost adults. While I have met some very nice students and made friends and kept in touch with many of them, there are also those that, pre-kids, made me want to have my tubes tied and never reproduce for fear of producing such brats. The latter group are prolific. Everyone I know, knows at least someone spoilt, entitled and often privileged. Many friends of mine who have taught in similar schools have the very same fear, that we inadvertently raise the next generation of monsters. This article got it right; no one sets out wanting to do it. But it starts with the little things. And then, the slippery slope into entitlement. The next thing we know, we're calling our kids' potential employer and demanding to know why our kid didn't get the job or the helper at home has to book into camp with the boy because he needs her to carry his full pack for him!

Our greatest fear!

A psychiatrist told someone I know that we shouldn't be so harsh on our 6 year olds because they are just kids and are not necessarily Mogwais waiting to turn into Gremlins at the stroke of midnight. True that but the fear is very real to us and both Packrat and I are constantly worried that we won't be able to prevent it, especially since the twins are in schools that are somewhat populated with privileged children.

So, as a result, I don't carry their bags for them and despite how late we are in the mornings and Evan has to tie his own shoelaces. Even on the days that Evan has asked me to be in school with him because he's had to stay back and get his own lunch, I don't lift a finger to help. I let him queue, let him re-queue because he jumped out of queue to come and tell me something and do everything for himself. Evan asked me once why I never wiped his mouth after he ate and distractedly I told him that God gave him two hands that could reach for tissue paper and wipe his own mouth. When it sank in a little bit more, I asked him why he asked me that, seeing that I haven't really wiped his mouth since he was about 2; his response was "XXX's mom does it for him at school. He makes baby bird sounds and his Mommy will wipe his mouth." To which I asked if he was a baby bird and that was the end of that discussion.

I don't know if our efforts will work. Our parents would accuse us of already spoiling them, they having gone on nice vacations and have nice things at such a young age. But where we can catch ourselves, we try and it always starts with the small things, regardless of weight of bag and oh, being able to say NO emphatically and meaning it.


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