Friday, 20 June 2014

Who Let The Dogs Out?

One spring day, many years ago, a seven year old Sarabeth was playing outside at recess in a small wooded area outside of her school* when the bell rang signifying the end of recess.  On her way to the doors she planted her sandalled foot smack into the middle of a giant pile of dog crap.  Her left foot, sandal and shin were covered in dog feces.  When she asked her teacher if she could go to the washroom - she was denied because she should have gone at recess.  When she tried to explain what had happened, she was cut off and told to go sit at her desk for a math lesson.  Forty-five minutes passed before she was permitted to go and scrape, the then hardened, sh%&t from her legs.  She was livid.

toddler with wolf statue
Pick up after your dogs people!

Something inside seven year old Sarabeth changed that day forever and from that moment on I refused to be denied access to a washroom because of the whim of an authoritarian.  Essentially I became scholastically disobedient** over certain rules that I felt were ridiculous on a regular basis.  This became the most common thing that I was disciplined for at school.  I refused to take no for an answer at a request to go to the washroom, or grab a sweater from my locker when I was cold.  In high school I was given a detention for calling a teacher by his first name after he blocked me from getting into my locker and made up some sort of childish rhyme about my name. That day when I arrived at detention and he asked me to write an essay about respect I am certain he didn't know how I would respond.  I wrote a concise 500 word essay about why he didn't deserve my respect. The incident was never mentioned again and that was the last time I received detention.

A few weeks ago I came across an article that infuriated me.  A third grade teacher decided to teach their class the value of money by implementing a monopoly like game where students could earn money for treats and snacks OR use it to "purchase" hall passes to use the washroom during class time.  Not surprisingly kids were buying popcorn, peeing their pants and getting teased by their peers after being forced to wear gym shorts all afternoon.  Of course the parents of these children are furious about the issue.  The teacher has since been removed from the classroom and is being investigated.

Maybe some of my rage about this system has to do with the fact that I haven't spent countless hours watching toddlers use a potty only to have my work undone by some teacher who decides that they are going to show my kids about life in the "real" world.  Perhaps it's that most children and plenty of adults I know would also fail this bastardized version of the marshmallow test and select confections, wine or beer over a hall pass to the washroom - it's not like you get more candy for saving your money. Or, most likely it's because it brings me back to that primary school washroom wetting paper towels to scrub away the dog poo.  I learned a lot of things from my teachers and parents and was always respectful of my elders - when they treated me like a human being.  I think I would just encourage my children to save up their monopoly money so they could spend the afternoon in the washroom or buy a ton of candy and go Linda Blair all over the floor.  But what do I know, I'm just the little girl with dog crap on her leg.

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*I recognize that I make it seem like there was some sort of Enchanted Forest behind my primary school.  I assure you, there was not.  It was a small gathering of trees divided by a path that made it perfect for playing capture the flag.
**The grade school version of civil disobedience.

1 comment:

  1. And that is why I have taught the boys that they do not ask to go to the bathroom at school, but instead they tell the teacher they are going to the bathroom and if they have a problem with that they can call me. :)