Since I’d want to know, pronto, if my son’s reply to being asked for his homework was, “Suck my dick,” my policy as a teacher is to volley this sort of thing right back to parents. Initially, when handling such issues, my accounts were generic, like that the student used “unacceptable” or “obscene” language in class. Soon enough, giving verbatim reports were more worthwhile for everyone, especially me. If I had to hear it, so should their parents.
A ninth-grader actually did tell me to suck his dick when I asked for his homework, and I called his mother that same afternoon and told her.
“Are you sure he was talking to you?”
Why? If he were talking to my 65-year-old aide or another student, would that have been better?
Not long before I left Allen High School, a pregnant teacher was walking through a crowded hall past a line-up of boys when one proclaimed, “Yeah, I tapped that pussy. I put that baby in there.” She identified him on a security tape, but he had an IEP, which translated into no skin off his back. The administrative party line was always the same when it came to the verbal abuse students inflicted on whomever they wanted, “They just don’t know any better.” High school seems like a logical place to learn that sexual harassment is against the law.
Perhaps you expect vulgar savagery from inner-city kids? Then I wish you could’ve been in line with me at Rita’s when the blonde girl in front of me, swaddled in all things Coach, driving her daddy’s car, left nothing to the imagination while detailing her recent shenanigans with a boy in someone’s basement. I really mean nothing, even the fact that he still has her panties. Her school ID on her keys revealed that she was from a posh district where the mostly white parents would sooner barricade themselves in the gym and suck in poisonous gas before letting Allen High School students take classes with their kids. Meanwhile, little Miss No-Panties practically gave the rest of us an STD by the time we ordered our gelati.
I’m not an expert on the Bill of Rights, but James Madison didn’t introduced the First Amendment so that snotty teenagers could be rude and disrespectful and call it free speech. Don’t ask them who James Madison was though. The important thing is that he was was completely focused on their needs when he wrote the Gettysburg Address, or whatever.
I’m sort of an expert on teenagers. Aside from teaching them, I also live with two right now. God was no joke when he told Eve that having kids was going to be really, really painful, and he wasn’t talking about babies either. Believe it or not, from about two on, kids instinctively look for boundaries they know should be in place to save them from their reckless young selves. When they don’t find any, they up the envelope-pushing because they’re trying to get us to do our jobs.
In an ideal world, we’d vote kids off our island on their 13th birthdays. Then, when they’re about 27, we’d collectively decide if they deserve to be reinstated into civilization, but as my kids often tell me, “It’s not like I asked to be born.” True enough. Our kids aren’t the first generation to be slutty potty mouths, but they are pioneers at being in our faces with it. They’re looking for boundaries that we’re not showing them, such as most thoughts aren’t meant for public consumption. A true sign of adulthood is that you get this, and you have the filters to prove it.
My daughter actually goes to Allen High School, and last week one of her track teammates won a race. The loser posted a picture of the finish with “Dumb ass bitch,” as the caption under the Allen winner’s picture. The loser also forgot she was Facebook friends with the winner’s brother. First and foremost, my child’s disrespect and lack of sportsmanship would be a reflection on me. The coach wouldn’t have to kick my kid off the team because I’d do it myself, and I know I’m in the minority.
Time is wasting while our kids are out there saying whatever they want, daring us to challenge their warped definitions of adulthood and all of the underserved liberties that we allow them to take with us. It’s our job to call their bluff, and get down to some old-school child-rearing—not the kind where we break their heads, but the kind where we break their crazy little egos and make no apologies for it.