Thursday, June 14, 2007

More June Questions

Erin asks: What is it like living with two junior highers? Because I work with them all day and am so happy to leave them at 2:45. I can't imagine coming home to two, although I suppose I will someday. SCARY.;)


I'm trying to enjoy every minute of having two pre-teens,... but, it's hard. Honestly? In the case of Possum#1, it's a delightful struggle. I can see her trying on new identities and roles and, like many parents (I'm sure), I worry about the ramifications of her choices. Be they good or bad choices, there's always a consequence. At the same time, it's an amazing opportunity to watch someone move towards becoming an autonomous, functioning adult. There are so many times, during the course of a normal day, where I am over-whelmed with pride. And, luckily, those times are still outnumbering the times when I have to remind myself that mistakes and mis-steps are not only inevitable, but also acceptable.

I'm also growing as a parent. Example: A year ago, I would've been completely off-put by P#1 asking if she could dye the tips of her beautiful blond hair pink. I probably would've said "absolutely not!" without really considering her desire or rationale for said desire. Yet... she asked in such a way that it was really hard to say "no!" and, when I gave her my attention and patience, she explained that she just wanted to dye the very tips (maybe an inch) and that she had the length to cut if off a week before school started. I had to ask myself what was so awful about a kid wanting to cut loose and do something "crazy" for a few weeks out of her lifetime. No one is going to get hurt. The misgivings I'd previously held were for stupid reasons (I didn't want her to seem "punk" or unworthy of respect). Her request exposed a flawed belief that I held and, because I want her to be open-minded and logical, I had to hold myself to the same practices. :) I decided that we, as a mother-daughter team, were at that point where battles have to be chosen wisely.

So... all of this to say, it (raising two junior highschoolers) isn't as bad as I thought it might be (so far!). LOL Yes...we have the occasional hormonal outburst or "duh" moments. And, yes... P#2, for the first time in his life, was standing in front of the refrigerator door looking for a snack at midnight. And, yes... I am both baffled and amused by the things that set them off (emotionally). And yes,...they've both said things, recently, that have angered or upset me, but... it could be so much worse. Check back with me in a few months! :)

As a teacher, I can only imagine that you don't have the same situation. I don't envy you. You're given thirty teens and told to, essentially, wing it. You can't possibly know each and every one of their individual quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. Your power is limited and, often, challenged. You don't have the luxury of a past (with all of the kids). And, to top it all off, the parents who are most likely to be in your face are probably the same parents who haven't been in their child's face since birth. Yes; the position of Jr. High teacher is probably not an enviable position to hold. :) But, I appreciate the fact that you take your job seriously and with great passion.

13 comments:

evolveintobirds said...

you said "I didn't want her to seem "punk" or unworthy of respect"....

awww....really??!! you equate punks with being unworthy of respect? as someone who lived in the 80's punk scene, who's rallying cry was "question authority"...i'm disappointed. i don't think any other movement in modern history more perfectly embodies many of your beliefs.*shrugs*

Atheist in a mini van. said...

you equate punks with being unworthy of respect?
No. That's not what I said. I didn't equate punk to being unworthy of respect.

The punk part was more of a play on what my own mother said when I told her I might let P#1 dye her hair. My parents had a son (my brother) who dyed his hair every color in the rainbow. :) My mother blames his hair to his "wild punk days". ;) So, when I said "punk", I had my mother in mind.

And, like it or not, kids with pink hair are looked at as "outside the norm" and if they went to a job interview with a candidate of equal merit, would probably look less professional than the other job candidate (that's what I meant when I said "respect"). I don't want anyone to look down on her because she's decided to play with her hair. I didn't say I would think of her as "punk" or "unworthy of respect." I was worthy about how she might be perceived.

I am intrigued, though. I honestly don't see the punk "movement" as being more tolerant of atheism. And, I don't see my beliefs as that "against the man" or "outside the norm". :)

How would you equate punk and atheism?

Zoe said...

I had two middle schoolers simulataneously, and now have two unschooling older teens. My daughter, 17, started dyeing her hair temporary colors at 7! I never had any problem with her displaying her own unique little self in non-permanent ways. Which basically means no tattoos until I don't have to sign. I have however rethought this to some extent; she is now a mother herself, and I figure, if she could do that most adult of physical things, there are a couple of tattoos that I could approve (her son's initials, for example). By the by, she had a natural birth with midwives, and caught the baby herself. What a badass chick! Although the pregnancy was a surprise, given the ongoing, honest conversations about all things sexual throughout her childhood, watching her birth was probably the proudest moment of my motherhood with her.
Anyway, as hair color and piercings were never a battle (some piercings I would not pay for, and required her to get done professionally as opposed to done by friends, i.e. tongue), she has removed all but two piercings (not counting ears), has removed the largeish gauges from her ears, and has dyed her hair back to its natural hue. Done experimenting. At 17. Which means, now that she's old enough to look for a job, hair color and piercings won't be an issue. I supported it, she's over it. Been there, done that. Ready to be a more 'normal' looking kid. Also, having a baby pulling at your gauges isn't the most comfortable thing in the world.
With the boy one, 15, he's done bleaching, and black. Had it long (didn't cut it from age 6-age 13), had it short and "emo-ish", now it's longish but regular old brown. He does have his lip pierced, and several in each ear. Who knows how long it'll last? What I can definitely say about both of my kids is that they have the know exactly who they are, and do what THEY are comfortable with at any given time, regardless of what their friends or other peers are doing.

Pmomma, best of luck to you... smart, thinking, independent kids are a joy and a challenge. The fun has just begun...

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Now that my kids almost 20 and 17+ I look back at those years with awe. You are right, Pmomma, to pick your battles. Temporary hair color shouldn't be one of them (or permanent...we've been many colors in this house, but not the magenta I see on a woman at work every day)

We've had tattoos and piercings. I put my foot down on some things and we negotiated on others. But we have a great relationship. They confide in me, and are honest regarding their relationships. I try to be honest in return. I am not perfect, but I try to be a good mom.

Paul said...

[silentsanta, nz]
Go the teachers! This is a
link to Apathy Jack's post about his experiences teaching. Jack is responsible for me quitting my job and trying to get into paediatrics

Also, slightly off topic: Flying spaghetti monster sighting

lynn's daughter said...

How about both? I teach them AND come home to one. It's like I never leave work. Ugh. Being a teacher has made me a better mom, though. I see so much in class that when I see it at home, it's no big deal.
I'm with you on the hair color, though. If that' the weirdest thing she does before she's 18, you're battin' a thou.

lynn's daughter said...

How about BOTH? I teach junior high and high school and I've got one in high school. It's like I'm at work 24-7.
I'm with you on the hair color, though. If that's the weirdest thing she does before she's 18, you're battin' a thou.

Theo Bromine said...

My "kids" (both male) are now 20 and 22. So far, I think they have turned out pretty well, all things considered (but of course I'm their mother :). When they were teenagers, I tried to let them have as much choice and autonomy as possible. They never asked for piercings or tattoos, though I probably would have been ok with the piercings, but not the tattoos (because of the tattoos' permanence, mostly).

With regards to appearance and respect: We always felt it was very important for our kids to learn to respect all people, regardless of what they look like. Of course the corollary to this is that it is wrong to disrespect people because of what they look like and/or how they dress. The only problem with doing this is that it can then sometimes become difficult to then explain to your kids (when they are being obstinate young teens) why they ought to dress in certain ways for certain people or certain occasions.

phewd said...

And, to top it all off, the parents who are most likely to be in your face are probably the same parents who haven't been in their child's face since birth.

I think this is one (of the many, to be sure) problem that needs to be nicked ASAP in education. Teachers are there to educate, not to parent. I absolutely detest when parents expect a teacher to be a parent yet lividly attack the teacher when s/he decides to actually discipline their child. Nonsense.

Janet said...

For a year and a half, my son had a Mohawk. He was not quite two when I gave it to him. He hates getting his hair cut, so I've just been letting it grow out for the last six months or so.

It's hair. It will always grow back.

I have a tattoo and a piercing myself. My only rule is that I have to approve and be present for all piercings.

As for tattoos, well, the tattoo I got, I had wanted that particular tattoo for over 5 years, and it has a special meaning to me.

Of course, I am a hairstylist, so I may just be a bit off the norm!

Virginia aka Ginny said...

I respect the Punk culture and when I see someone with punk hair and piercings, I think there is an individual who knows who they are and not afraid to be different. I'm not counting punk wannabe's though...they are a different breed entirely.

evolveintobirds said...

"How would you equate punk and atheism?"

I think D. Seel (who ironically is a xtian) expressed it better than I can:

Punk is a “hermeneutic of suspicion, the deliberate attempt to expose the self-deceptions involved in hiding our actual motives behind our beliefs.”...“Punk rock is a musical genre rooted in critique and skepticism. It has little tolerance for superficiality and hypocrisy. It has no patience for those whose convictions are based on unquestioning authority instead of the hard, honest work of pursuing truth as one understands it.” One would be hard pressed to find anyone that self-identified as a xtian in the 80's punk movement...despite the "moral" behaviors of the Straight Edge subgroup.

I personally believe that any band they calls themselves "christian punk" is deluding themselves in more way than one. Punk is not just a sound...that's why bands like Green Day may have *roots* in punk, but they themselves understand that their corporate success kinda automatically negates the right to call themselves punk.

It's not about being different, as I hope the quote above amply illustrates. :)

Virginia aka Ginny said...

I think D. Seel (who ironically is a xtian) expressed it better than I can:

Punk is a “hermeneutic of suspicion, the deliberate attempt to expose the self-deceptions involved in hiding our actual motives behind our beliefs.”...“Punk rock is a musical genre rooted in critique and skepticism. It has little tolerance for superficiality and hypocrisy. It has no patience for those whose convictions are based on unquestioning authority instead of the hard, honest work of pursuing truth as one understands it.” One would be hard pressed to find anyone that self-identified as a xtian in the 80's punk movement...despite the "moral" behaviors of the Straight Edge subgroup.

I personally believe that any band they calls themselves "christian punk" is deluding themselves in more way than one. Punk is not just a sound...that's why bands like Green Day may have *roots* in punk, but they themselves understand that their corporate success kinda automatically negates the right to call themselves punk.

It's not about being different, as I hope the quote above amply illustrates. :)


Thank you so much. You said that beautifully and I agree with you.