Saturday, February 18, 2006
Oh hush, act your age.
All my life I have loathed the expression, "Act your age." Even as a child I wondered how a person could 'act' an age; the best I could ever do was to 'be' an age. "Act" always connoted phoniness to me.
I totally agree with the little girl in this joke. How can a child know how a certain age is supposed to act, when the child has never BEEN that age before? We need to be guided into each age, not tossed.
Remember in the movie "Hook" when Robin Williams turns on his young son in anger and tells him to stop acting like a kid? And the child's response was, 'But Dad, I AM a kid!"
Often in schools, teachers mark students down for being "immature." This is indeed a deficiency after a certain point, say, sixth grade or so. But to mark down a small child for being 'immature?' If a child is not allowed to be immature when he's seven years old, just when IS he allowed to be immature? Aren't all small children immature? Doesn't that go with the territory? Why do we expect small children to behave maturely, yet smile when grown men and women behave like small children? Why is one cute and endearing, and the other annoying? And which did you find annoying, may I ask?
BEING one's age is something we should all strive to do. ACTING it won't fool anybody.
And with the BEING comes the responsibility. Proper behavior should not be limited to certain ages; after only a few years, children know what's proper and what's not, unless they've been living in a vaccuum, or unless they've been allowed to run the household. And none of us know anyone who lets THAT happen, right?
So. As parents and citizens of the universe, we owe it to our children and to each other and to ourselves to lighten up on some things AND tighten the screws on others, both at once, so our children will truly grow up, not just get bigger with the same poor impulse control and with the feeling that the galaxy revolves around them. And how do we do this? With whatever it takes, my friends. Some children evolve naturally into delightful mature adults, and others must be wrestled to the ground with every new concept.
Do not allow your child to walk out your door and become the neighborhood monster, the school bully, the local knock-up artist, and an incorrigible bum. At least, not without some serious battles and opposition on your part. (some things we just can't control, not even with the best parental intentions, dedication, and arsenal known to mankind, sigh.) And if teachers, neighbors, friends, and total strangers try to tell you that your child's behavior is in need of serious control, believe them. Don't make excuses, because there ARE no excuses. Seek help and seek it till you get it. No matter what the problem might be, a person with no self control is a danger to the other people in this world, and that person must be stopped and forced to change, and if change is not possible, then that person must be coralled, lest innocent others be hurt if they get in the way of his 'anger management problems' and 'poor impulse control problems.' I'm sorry as I can be, but the safety and well-being of the majority should count for something, too.
So. Let your children BE their age. And make bloody sure they know what's expected of them at that age, and give them time and opportunity to DO what's expected of them, and make the expectations bigger and more complicated as their age increases. Make sure the consequences for NOT BEING their age are severe and memorable. Very memorable. Allowing a child to remain a child forever, with no responsibilities and with excuses for tantrums and selfishness and laziness and with no manners and no understanding of public behavior, is as much 'abuse' as is beating him with a stick. Maybe worse, because others will suffer because of this parental laziness as well.
As a teacher, I called CPS more times than I could ever count. But not as many times as I WISH I could have. Whiny spoiled lazy monsters with helpless babyish doting excuse-making parents are a bane to the existence of us all.
BEING one's age often means behaving as a child behaves. BEING one's age also means behaving as polite society requires all persons in public to behave. There are times and places for childish shouts and spontaneous delight, and there are times and places for silence and respect. People of all ages need to know which is which.
I feel ranty today.
And no, I am not referring to special needs people.
<------Not good, no.