Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do as I say ...

While sitting in the parent pick up lane waiting for my oldest to get out of school the other day I watched a lesson in parenting unfold.

Understand that a parking lot at the end of the school day is actually a really dangerous place to be. Parents fighting for parking or vying for a good spot in line, kids darting around excited to get home ... it is a little chaotic, and I think my son's school has a pretty good system to control it so I can't imagine how much fun it is elsewhere.

Back to the point, this guy darts across the parking lot, not in a crosswalk, and narrowly avoids being hit as a result. Teachers are lining the parking lot politely asking him to use the crosswalk instead, which he ignores. A few minutes later I am a few feet further up in line, and this guy is walking with his kid, who darts in front of a car. Now the driver of that car was watching so nothing happened, but it scared the dad to see his kid move unexpectedly in front of a car. So he yelled at him. A lot. And while lecturing on the importance of safety and using cross walks I couldn't help but wonder if dad felt like a hypocrite or just was one.

Do as I say, not as I do is a cliche for a reason. However, while my kid may learn that I say wash the dishes and put them away immediately, he will also know that I do occasionally "soak" the as a way to deal with the problem later - or better yet let someone else do it! As a parent and teacher, I have seen this lesson play out in less humorous ways and it is frustrating. Parents who don't follow rules, who are disrespectful are then surprised when their kids don't follow rules or are rude to others. The parent who yells and swears at his kid's teacher is amazed later when their child holds no respect for authority. Go figure. Parents who don't follow the rules in the parking lot are amazed when their child follows their lead. Really is it that shocking?

There is wisdom to be found in the words of bumper stickers, and I am reminded of one here:

Big mean people make little mean people.

You can change the adjective to just about anything and this can be true. Big rude people make little rude people. Big respectful people make little ones. So while the rules may seem dumb or obnoxious to us as adults sometimes we just need to remember the example we may be setting, and recall that we don't want to be fodder for some one's blog rant about hypocrisy in a school zone.

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