Thursday, February 4, 2010


Someone once told me, "a person can make good decisions, but people are stupid." I rebelled. My generally optomistic, the damn-glass-is-half-full (hopefully of whiskey) nature leans toward assuming the best. I've been known to spout "maybe he's just lost" reasoning as to why the idiot in traffic cut me off nearly impaling my front teeth on the steering wheel as he whipped across three lanes to an exit leaving paint on the guardrail. He just didn't SEE me.....right? That awful woman in the market just 'had a bad day.' The bagger at the grocery that smashed your bagels in with your fabric softener so your breakfast tasted vaguely of fabreeze just wasn't "trained right."
But then...alarming awakening.
It started when I decided to pick up some Swanson's frozen deal for my grandmother and discovered the words, "Do not eat the plastic film" on the box. Are you serious? The film? I thought that was the best part! Gives a luminescent glaze to the little carrots and a tangy zip to the chicken. I actually considered calling Susie Swanson and telling her that the film was delicious and JUST because I hadn't moved my bowels in two weeks was NO reason to keep me from enjoying it!! Alas, I didn't.
And then last week the boys brought their report cards home. While I am indeed blessed to have honor roll children--I sat in silent stupefication (is that a word?) reading the accompanying note.
Tips For A Successful Parent Teacher Conference

1. Arrive promptly or even a few minutes early.'re only given a 15 minute slot so being "late" would be bad, right? We all learn that lesson every time we think explicit homicidal thoughts while sitting in the Doctor's waiting room for a 3:30 appointment with a screaming snot-nosed child--at 4:15 because some other idiotic parent was late. Death to those who can't tell time.

2. Begin with positive comments about the teacher or classroom. Wow. What kind of po-dunk moldy rock did you crawl out from beneath that you don't know how to say hello nicely? What prompted this lovely social tip--Mr. Thomas walked in and said, "Nasty place this room, and you're as ugly as Billy said you was."

3. Keep your emotions under control. It's a postal society, I know--but in the midst of the insanity, who "loses control" over a second grader's report card?? Exactly HOW many emotional escapades does it take to inspire such a an admonition? (and do I need to move if this is a regular occurance at our school?)

4. Be open-minded to suggestions from the teacher. Well....gosh darnit, she is the teacher. If she thinks your kid needs to work harder on his handwriting--she's probably right. Rocket science, this is.

5. Express appreciation for the conference. Again, who raised you?? Show appreciation for the person who puts up with your little demon 40 hours a week while attempting to educate him so he's not living in your basement when he's 35? DEAR GOD, say thank you!
And it occurs to me--damn, people are really....just stupid. *sigh* Not in the uneducated "good-hearted-but-can't-pour-piss-out-of-a-boot-if-the-directions-were-on-the-heel" kind of way (you can thank my southern mother for that one); but in a self-centered, oblivious, don't-even-SEE-you-on-the-radar kind of way. Where has this general dysfunction come from? When did parents stop teaching their children to say hello, listen while someone is speaking, and thank them for their time? And then these children grew up....and now they've spawned?
We have to be told not to eat the plastic wrap.
Where in the hell are we headed as a society??
Technology advances, entertainment soars, comfort is supreme....and we're losing our humanity. Our common sense is evaporating as quickly as our common manners. Just standing in line at the bank is an education in current swear-word-trends. You'd think that having to wait ten minutes for your turn while a slightly flustered employee who is obviously working their ass off hurries reason to flip out and lose control.
Then again, if it can happen over a report card....
Self control. Patience. Respect. These strands that weave a group of people into a community...I feel like I'm watching them fray. Has the cocoon of our independant lives left us not with magnificent wings, but crippled, clawing about on the ground? We're secluding ourselves as surely as a plump catepillar wraps itself in silk. We don't need to interact with anyone to shop for clothes, order our bills, invest in the market...even go to school or work. As we aggrandize our intellectual universe...are we creating a black hole in it's place?
I want butterflies. I want to see my children soar. If it takes all my strength and all my days...I will never settle for rude. Never allow the stupid, the insolent...the loss of the very thing that makes man so capable of such wonders.
I will battle to have sense and manners....become common again.


Danielle said...

I posted about this not too long ago. Seriously, the times have changed and manners have become a thing of the past for most. I will teach my daughter to respect!

Debbie(singlemom;complicatedworld) said...

great post! and it does start with us as parents!! My kids act different then their friends and I am so glad they do!! its a CRAZY world...!!

Maven said...

"I will never settle for rude."

This whole piece was so great - I loved that line. The beauty is, you'll end up with the treasure of amazing kids because of who you are.

Today I had the pleasure of working with 20 committed, happy, focussed teenagers who want to make a difference. They'll never understand the faith they restored for me in humanity - but they did.

Kirsty said...

Oh cripes. I can't believe those tips! I wouldn't treat kids with such little respect and such low expectations - let alone their parents!

Chantel said...

Danielle--sometimes I'm just shocked. What has happened....and who let it??

Debbie--at least we have each other in the craziness. There IS hope!

Maven--you found a focussed teenager?? lol Kidding, but the few that I've met...I'm amazed by. One flame can light a room, right? xox

Kirsty--You said, "cripes." You're now officially one of my favorite people.

drollgirl said...

SIGH. don't eat the plastic wrap. CHRIST. that means somebody DID eat the plastic wrap and a lawsuit took place. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Tracie said...

That is funny and sad at the same time. I really feel sorry for teachers these days. The whole world thinks life is big old Springer episode.

Chantel said...

Drollgirl--yep. plastic love.....yum. Exactly. I just wanna take popcorn and watch from the corner...

Fragrant Liar said...

I agree. The only thing I can think of is that some in our society are becoming even more stupid (yes, I said that), extremist, and violent with each generation. I think this is the school's way of reaching those people and not the majority of common sense "right" thinkers.

Enjoying your blog.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

I love your definition of stupid. It is ironic that I just posted on Twitter though that I am pretty tired of the "people are stupid" meme. Most people who say it are people who want to tell me what is best for me or want a certain select group of people to tell us what is best for us because, well, we're stupid and don't know better. I think your definition beautifully defines the difference. Common sense, respect, tolerance. Even a brilliant master of the universe can be "stupid" if you use this criteria.