Friday, October 9, 2009

Suffer the little children…

While we work to create an alternative economy we must still live in the real one. I feel like I’ve written that before. To that end I obtained employment. I got a job with a company that provides after-school programs. For a few hours every afternoon I get to hang out with about fifty running and screaming children.
I like kids. I have two siblings that are 10 and 12 years younger than me, and I changed their diapers and walked them to sleep. Played with them and babysat. When I left home they were 6 and 8 and I still think of them as that age sometimes, but now they are 17 and 19! That means I’m old. I look at them and say ‘how old are you again?’ Then there are the handful of nieces and nephews that I have lived with on occasion. The point being, I’ve always been around children. Just to further my credentials, I also worked with children with multiple disabilities at a school for the deaf and the blind.
As the subject of an anthropological study, children are fascinating. They are the continued evolution of the human race. Their little brains are designed to learn their culture. Every child will, without ever receiving formal training, learn to near perfection the spoken grammar of their dialect. Every individual will of course put their own idiolectical spin on that dialect, which is in part the cause of language evolution. I often argue nature vs. nurture to myself. I mean, infants have personalities, and two year olds are bursting with personality. But you can never completely judge by the child’s personality what the adult’s personality will be. Just as you can never imagine what a child will look like when they grow up. However, whenever I see pictures of my mom as a little girl, I think that she looks exactly the same; I can still see that little girl shining out of her eyes. Damn linear nature of time.
Well, the company that hired me serves one of the school districts here in Tucson. I have had a rather confusing time with it. In the first three weeks I have worked at four different sites. Just as I was beginning to learn the kids’ names in one place, the company would move me to another. And the children in the current place are the biggest group of hellions that I have ever seen. Many of them argue back with phrases like ‘whatever’ ‘who cares’ ‘no’ ‘you can’t make me’ and one kid told me when he grows up he wants to be in jail. I have been hit in the back twice in as many days, kicked and threatened by some six year old punk, who runs off and climbs up a tree.
There is little support form management; the philosophy behind the program is to explore the child’s interest and plan the curriculum around their interests. I really appreciate the theory; there just isn’t the structure to back it up. To this end, we are not allowed to organize activities we are just allowed to provide them with materials and let them explore. We are not allowed to discipline, we must re-direct them to a different activity. We are not really supposed to tell the parents of troubles with the children, if we must we should preface it with lavish praise. We are not supposed to project our voices to get the whole group’s attention; we must gather them one by one and request that they quietly sit on the rug.
I realize that I have a different approach to child rearing. As Cesar Millan advises, children and dogs need rules, boundaries and limitations. If a child misbehaves, they should be corrected. If a child at such young age is already lying, stealing, fighting and threatening to stab people, it’s time for some hard knocks, and some place putting. They should learn that such behavior is not tolerated by society. Mamby-pamby psycho-babble isn’t going to cut it.
Children have been successfully raised for millennia, without detriment to our species, but now I think we are doing harm to the human race with these coddling philosophies.
Look at me, I wasn’t given options, I was told to do things. I was spanked, and grounded and put in time out and made to apologize. And I turned out just fine. (some people might question this)


  1. Now that I'm a teacher, I can sympathize with you.

  2. Will you come over and babysit tonight?