Recently Number One got a black mark from his teacher. Nothing unusual about that. It happens regularly for talking in class, dawdling with his exercises and all the usual misbehaviour of a bored six year old. Generally he doesn’t take offence. But this time he was angry about it.
Number One has a very strong sense of justice and if he feels he has been unjustly treated, he can get quite irate. The black mark he had been given was for leaving the classroom to look for his teacher. She hadn’t come back to class after the bell rang at the end of lunchtime. He didn’t see why that warranted a black mark.
My initial reaction was to defend the teacher. “You can’t just go wandering round the school. The teacher will come back when she’s ready”.
Over the next week or so my mind kept returning to that conversation. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with what my son had done. If it had been my son who didn’t return to the classroom after the bell had rung, there would have been trouble. The teacher would have gone to look for him and would have reminded him that when the bell rings, class resumes. He’d have got a black mark for that too. Why, I asked myself, should there be one rule for the teachers and another for the students? Isn’t a child’s time as valuable as a teacher’s?
We are all familiar with bosses who think their time is worth more than ours or queue skippers who feel that for some reason or other the queing system doesn’t apply to them. Most of us hate that behaviour, so why do we persist in treating our children’s time as less important than ours? How often have you told your child to hurry up or to stop playing because you have something to do or somewhere to go? I know I do it more often than I’d like to. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that we as parents take our children’s precious time and use it whatever way we like and that’s not really fair.
In a post I wrote back in February, I mentioned how I was reminded how easy it is say “yes” instead of “not now”. The situation with Number One and his teacher has given me another jolt and made me think twice before telling my children we don’t have time for whatever it is they want to do. Quite often we could make a bit of time.
So the other morning when Number One wanted to listen to his Famous Five CD before school, I held back on saying “We don’t have time for that before school”. Instead I let him eat his cereal at the coffee table and listen to his CD. He listened as he ate and when the time came to switch it off, he didn’t complain. He put on his shoes, jacket and schoolbag and went off to school happily, having used his pre-school half hour they way he wanted to.