This weeks Spin Cycle is Rules. And after thinking about "rules" for a bit, I might need to rant.
->If you believe that your child is a "special little snowflake" for any reason, please click away now. I mean any reason, ADD, spectrum disorder, food allergy, incredibly intelligent, or artistic or athletic. You especially need to click away if your child is "normal" but you think there are just too many rules for kids these days. Really, before the next paragraph starts. Cause I'm about to tell it like it should be.->
These days I'm a more than a little disgusted by how many parents think there are too many rules for children today. They have some issue or other, and the world needs to change its rotation to ensure that little Susie survives to adulthood and JackJack is nurtured by the entire village to his full blossoming potential. I'm seeing it more and more. Parents don't want rules in the classroom, or in public places. They want their children to be able to express themselves wherever they are, and they want people to recognize that each child is "different" and "special" in their own way. Everyone should love their child, and all its idiosyncrasies. Come on, admit it. If you're a parent, you've heard this 1,000 times in the last week alone.
Truth be told, that's a load of krappe. We are all more alike than not. And kids need to learn, at a nice early age, that the rules apply to ALL of us. Rules help us all function TOGETHER. In the classroom, being quiet and listening to the teacher is important. Standing nicely in line is important. You can't throw things, or bite people, screaming at non-screaming sanction times is frowned upon. I think it's great that your kid really expresses themselves well with clay, but they need to learn their ABCs and numbers, too. And so does my kid, in their class, who doesn't like clay. I'm tired of parents excusing their kids because they "just can't work within structure." They're little flower is "more creative than conformist".
What frustrates me is that I know a lot of parents (oh, and wait, I'm one of them) who are working their hardest to teach their kid how to function within the rules. Our kids aren't special, they're just kids. So when I hear that LG misbehaved and crawled under the stalls at bathroom time? LG and I talk about it, and why we don't do that. And why it's important to listen when the teacher tell us to stop. When the teacher tells me, "He's only 3, they all do stuff like that." it's not an excuse for me. I still need to teach my kid it's not right to use the bathroom as his own personal jungle gym. Coloring the walls with crayon instead of the paper isn't creative, it's testing boundaries. I tell him once it's against the rules. The next time? He gets a time out. That's how they learn to obey the rules. How did you feel the first time you got a big speeding ticket? Thought twice about going 55 in the school zone, right?
Throwing a fit because you want to go to the bathroom NOW and not when the teacher asked you 4 times when it was your turn 10 minutes ago? Yup, that's you trying to impose some control over your situation, I get it. But when you're 3 and at pre-school with 14 other kids? Not going to fly, especially if it happens every day. Yes, there is a kid in LGs class who does this. Every day. With the arms flinging and the kicking of the teacher. His Mom doesn't think it's a problem. Why can't the teacher just let him go when he wants to? The teacher's a control freak. She has never once considered what would happen if all the kids did this. Or what it's like to be a 3 year old waiting to go out on the playground while a classmate throws a fit, everyone watches the teacher get slapped and kicked, waits for the director to come deal with it and then finally gets to go out. She just thinks he has an independent spirit. He'll be a leader some day...
What happens to these kids when they get to the real world? There are no IEP's in college, or business. The judge isn't going to care if your Mom didn't think time outs were an effective way to discipline (side note- jail is really just a judge's version of time out, huh?) There are only so many jobs for artists and bmx bikers in the world, so I suspect your little special snowflake will need to learn to show up on time in a clean shirt and do what his boss tells him to do. How is making excuses and special provisions now going to help him later?
I'll admit that the first time LG uttered the words, "Because that's the rules, right Mama?" I was floored. He was 2, and I felt like it was a scene from 1984. And then I realized something. The kids who learn the rules early, and well, are the ones who can truly break them all when they get older. It's the people who see the boundaries, understand them and still boldly step over them that make a difference. Those are the great artists, and world leaders. Not obeying the rules when you don't understand them is criminal. Not obeying when you do is visionary.