Southern Rearing

By the time kids announce their first runaway from home at age five or six, most already have backpacks. A generation or two ago we made “hobo poles” by wrapping up belongings in a towel or handkerchief and tying it onto the end of a stick to be slung over the shoulder.

Most parents will delight in recalling their son or daughter’s early childhood brush with independence.

Most parents assist with bagged sandwiches, flashlights, and fruit snacks – some include a favorite toy or storybook.

One jokester friend of mine told me how he included a whistle in his sons luggage. It was for protection. Against ghosts, monsters, and the occasional wolf.

Some kids outright change their minds at the door, while stories abound of snickering parents peeping from slits in curtains at their children sulking in the yard sitting on stumps or lawn chairs or hiding behind trunks of trees in the driveway until they change their minds.

Teaching a child respect can get dicey when you have given a child perhaps too much, by treating the child as an adult. My son stays astounded at a high percentage of teachers who seem “out to get him” and who fail to answer his questions when voiced in an even toned rational query.

After warnings, parent teacher conferences, in and out of school suspensions, and some valiant efforts to pull up slews of zero’s on un-submitted assignments to passing grades, I decided to stop driving three hours to his mother’s house for conferences. This year my son and I agreed that he would come live with me and that we would both work on our past errors. He is fourteen and enrolled in an “award winning” high school as a ninth grader. Having learned to value rational thought, and compose logically reasoned homilies concerning various issues (usually pertaining to his liberties), it was not long before my own powers of persuasion became outgunned. The fine line between respectful disagreement and arrogance has eluded the boy.

So I demanded he write the sentence, “Because I said so is reason enough to obey,” one hundred times.

Texting: Because I said so is reason enough to obey - licensed from iStock and customised for He complied. By texting my phone. Fifty six times. Then twenty times more.

My bad. It was late and he promised to finish the final twenty four in the morning.

In the morning on the surface he was composed. Underneath he seethed. He refused to complete the assignment. He called his Mom.

Since my son’s mother has legal custody, she decided that home schooling will solve the problem of an angel child being forcefully metamorphosed into a mindless conformist robot by educational automatons.

So I called her bluff. “If the teachers who teach each of six subjects are not as well versed in their fields of expertise as you are” I told her, “then have at it – you teach the boy.”

So a sandwich, a flashlight, a change of clothes, and just for fun, a whistle await the boy. Not really. Actually a pretty fair alternative awaits him. The guidance counselor at the high school I withdrew my son from assures me that the new online cyberschools can and do turn out well educated students.

My son will sink or swim. No lectures to pay attention to, he will read everything he needs to know instead of having it explained in class.

And all my love, advice, discipline, and camaraderie?

I’ll phone it in.

  1. Actually, “because I said so” is not reason enough to obey. Presumably, directions are given for the child’s benefit and that should be able to be explained.
    Also, I am fully supportive of writing assignments–hand-written assignments. Writing by hand not only delivers the message to the subject brain visually, but reinforces it via the small muscles of the hand and the tactile sensation of pen in hand. When information arrives via multiple path-ways, it tends to make a greater impression.
    Some people who are “all thumbs” may well find texting a great boon, but it won’t improve their small muscle control.
    My grandson did much better in his cyberclasses. He’s been diagnosed as ADD and is easily distracted. It may be necessary to place parental controls on your son’s computer to keep him focused on the school work.

  2. Frank Povah

    “Presumably, directions are given for the child’s benefit and that should be able to be explained.”

    And this is where we made the big mistake – thanks to experts. Children are NOT adults, they DO NOT have the same rights or privileges as adults other than universal human rights and they ARE NOT entitled to privacy at all times.

    Children are children and should be treated as such.

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