Wednesday, March 21, 2012
R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Find Out What It Means To Me)
I've been holding off on this post for a week, but I can suppress myself no longer. Something must be said. But it must be said to parents, and I fear I will come off as accusatory or—heaven forbid—holier than thou. This is not my intent.
Think of this post as a call to action. For action must be taken quickly if we are to save all of humanity. Because our very humanity is at stake; the part that makes us think of others before ourselves, that makes us kind and pleasant to be around. It's the very notion that we share this planet, these cities and towns, our streets and yes, even our elementary school auditoriums.
And it's the auditoriums I would like to address.
Last week the fourth graders of Jacob Wismer Elementary school performed their yearly concert: a mash-up of singing, dancing and instrumentals led by our dedicated music teacher, Mrs. Phillips. They'd worked hard. Jonah was so excited he wore his black clothes to school every day that week in preparation, so he'd be ready for his native american feather dance.
I'm not an etiquette expert, but my understanding is when someone wants to perform something for you, you show respect and pay attention. Additionally, you show respect for those around you by not talking through the performance, not standing up and blocking other's views, and not allowing your children to run wild.
None of these acts of respect happened at the fourth grade performance.
I realize this was a family friendly event, but what better place to teach children how to show respect? Not only did many parents fail to hold their kids to a standard of respect, they, themselves, set examples of disrespect. I was horrified. Plus, I couldn't catch more than a fleeting glimpse of Jonah through the miniature screen of some lady's digital camera two rows ahead of me. (She was holding it high above her head to get the best pictures.)
So I ask, where has our respect for each other gone? How have we become so self-obsessed? When did we stop thinking about our "neighbor?"
I don't mean to go into histrionics, but this type of attitude could destroy us. (And I'm fully prepared to blame it on reality TV, but that's another post.)
I need help raising my boys. When I tell Ethan, who has a non-contagious, allergy-related cough, that he needs to sit on the aisle so he can step into the hallway if he needs to cough so as not to disturb those around him, and SIX adults talk at regular volume non-stop directly behind us, what is he supposed to think?
When my eight-year-old can't see because someone standing up in front of him, but I make him sit so he won't block the view of the person behind him, how is he supposed to react?
We need to support each other in our efforts to raise the next generation of thinking, responsible, compassionate, honest adults. It's hard. Especially when kids see the adults around them exhibiting none of these traits.
Let's all rise to a higher standard of respect for each other. Let's be the village our kids can look to for how they should act. We're not perfect and we will make mistakes, but if we're all helping each other, it will be much easier, and we'll all be much more successful.
And for the love of Pete, if someone wants to show you something they've practiced and perfected and are proud of, shut up and watch. Clap when they are done. Show a little respect.
Posted by Afton at 2:36 PM