Some parents these days are so hell-bent on taking teachers on about everything and anything, that I think in the process they forget what they could possibly be mirroring to their children through their actions.
Spare the rod?
I was raised in a Coloured home, where both my parents were teachers. When I was in primary school a teacher once called my mom to complain about me breaking the school rules. Now, if your mother was anything like mine, you’d know that was an absolute no from her. On the call, she told the teacher to please let me wait in the foyer of the office while she made her way to school. The reason she requested they keep me there was because she wanted me to experience the full wrath of her fury. She later explained that if she was to wait for me to be called when she arrived at school; there was the slight possibility that someone may have calmed her down by the time she saw me.
My hiding that day was public, and so was my embarrassment but most of all, my mother’s regard for the school code of conduct was clear. Her expectations of me, even clearer.
Another memory we laughed about the other day was one where my mom handed the, then, ‘helper’, a belt to discipline me with because I said “joh Mokete, kyk hoe dronk is djy!” The fact that it was true and my mother could also see that she had had a couple too many drinks was not the point. That day my mother was teaching me that it didn’t matter the state or status and class of an older person. I was a child who had to know my place and address them with respect.
To this day, I’m often surprised at how ‘impressed’ people, who overhear me speaking to the cleaners at work or to the elderly petrol attendant, are at the way I address them. If they are old enough to be my mother, aunt, or granny. I will treat them accordingly.
One afternoon I got home, furious at an old man who was driving badly on the road. My mother allowed me to finish my rant and calmly responded with “dit kon jou oupa gewees het, en jy weet hoe ry hy. Sou jy so kwaad wees vir hom?” Case closed.
There are many incidents I could think of as a comparison to how different it was for us growing up and the kids that sit in front of me in my class these days. How different some parents are now compared to our parents back when we were kids. One grade 7 class, that I think of fondly, used to laugh from their bellies when I told them that I’m probably still afraid that my mom will backhand me if I say something, she thought inappropriate, in her presence.
A lady once asked me: “Don’t you regret how you were raised, how strict your mother was?” My answer to her, “I hope that I can raise my daughter half as well as my parents raised me.” Yes, I have a dad, very present and loving but this area of expertise was my mother’s.
The other day, a parent complained about a teacher addressing a child for homework not being done in front of the rest of the class. I was confused, where else was she supposed to do it? Was she supposed to stop the process of learning and teaching to take little Jannie* outside to discuss homework not done, AGAIN? I later thought: “Aren’t you complaining about the wrong party here? Should your concern not be the homework repeatedly not done?”
It is definitely important for parents to come up for their kids when necessary but at times it feels like some parents are doing it even when it is unwarranted. Teachers seem to have become the enemy.
My most saddening experience as a teacher recently was with a learner who had been so rude, disrespectful and showed no regard for the school code of conduct and the authority of the teachers. His parents were repeatedly called and communicated with to make them aware of their child’s behaviour. Numerous requests to please assist with discipline and consequences at home. Eventually, this led to a disciplinary hearing where, in the boy’s presence, his mother, on his behalf, denied all the accusations that included, among others, “swearing at teachers and violent and threatening behaviour towards other learners.” He sat there listening to her defend things he knew he had done. What message was mama sending to him?
As parents, it’s vital that we remember that we play a huge role in the lives of our children. How they turn out is greatly influenced by how they are raised. Look, I’m the first to say that our parents aren’t 100% responsible for how we turn out because, at the end of the day, we have the free will to make our own decisions as adults. The importance of the right fundamentals however cannot be denied.
As teachers we are committed to the holistic development of learners, we put in the time and the effort to mould well-rounded children. We, however, cannot be held solely responsible for the discipline of children. They need to be taught at home how to behave at school. How to treat others and how to show respect.
Right now it feels like the sum total of who a child will become rests solely on the education system and if I’m honest, I wouldn’t want to leave who my child becomes entirely in the hands of a total stranger.
We should be a team that consists of parents, family, community and the education system.
My daughter is only 3 and I know that there is so much that lies ahead of her that we can’t do it on our own. The last three years have been so many things to us, I know we would never have been able to survive them without our tribe. I just want the people who love her now to continue to love her enough to go on this journey with us. To be part of her upbringing. To call her out when needed and even to check us when we appear to be losing the plot as her parents.
My mom is literally one of my best friends. I honestly never saw that coming as a teenager, I never imagined that she would understand me the way she does, that we would be able to talk about absolutely anything and that we would still be fighting but about very different things compared to back then. I’m glad that we weren’t besties growing up because Lord knows I needed her to be a mother more than a friend.
So much has changed but the saying, it takes a village to raise a child, rings true to this day. I often think that if we hold onto the values of old we could build a healthier society.
To my mom
I’m definitely going to take this opportunity to say thank you ma, for who you are to me.
For the 6 o’clock in the morning, ‘deur die bek klap’ cause I refused to speak to my little brother and that made him cry. For the before school beat down because I cut my hair off after you had told me to wait.
Thank you for always keeping it real, for showing me how to be a mom, and now as an adult, for showing me how to be a friend and most importantly a wife.
Ja ok, en dankie an ie oom met die grys baard wat langs ma sit.
*These are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.