It's happened again, folks.
Another mom has sought media attention as she stands by her bratty kid and against a school authority. It's a phenomenon that drives me crazy, partly because I was raised in a much different America.
You see, in the country I grew up in, teachers and principals were there to teach us but also okay to step in and get physical if we needed it. There was something called the paddle in the principal's office and I'm convinced that kids were better off for having met it. Chances are that your parents not only stood by the administration of justice at school but administered their own brand when Dad got home.
My Mom paddled me with the caveat that she did it because she loved me and notified me that: "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you."
Yep, paddling hurt. Sure, it stung getting swats on the butt. Yep, the ego got a little bruised. But never was it done with a parent having this sick delight in hurting their offspring. It was used to teach a lesson and pain is often a great deliverer of message.
I see a whole generation of kids who grew up completely normal and law-abiding after corporal punishment. Just ask George W. Bush who got paddled by his principal as a youngster. We didn't grow up to torture cats or stick bamboo shoots underneath are siblings' fingernails. What we did learn was akin to the lyrics of the 1977 hit, "I found the law and the law won."
Nobody seems to believe in pain anymore. In other words, we don't believe that living dumb can get you killed. If you break the law we don't believe in sentences. If we default on a loan we think it shouldn't affect our ability to get credit. If you use drugs, you are entitled to perfect health. If you steal in another man's castle, you shouldn't face a bullet. If you kill, your own life should be spared.
We've got a bunch of spoiled brats today who don't know what "no" means and running right over adults who let them get away with it. It's supposed to hurt when you get caught stealing or damaging people's property. When kids are protected from their consequences, a grave disservice is done to them. When you go bail them out or make excuses, it sends the message that it's okay to do it again.
The latest tattling-to-the-media story stems from a Feb. 23 action at Michael J. Castori Elementary School in Sacramento where an 11-year-old boy is claiming he was grabbed and choked by a substitute teacher. That's his version, and I can tell you that when it comes down to an 11-year-old or a grown adult in a classroom, I'm not going believe the kids first.
The headline on the Fox 40 story is "Sacramento boy claims he was grabbed, choked by substitute teacher." The headline in my head reads more like: "Bratty kid who callers teacher the ‘N-word' doesn't get what he deserves at school and Mom cries foul anyway."
The story is of Andreas Cuellar who wigged out when a substitute teacher grabbed a ball at recess and refused to give it back. We're not told why the ball was withheld from him but its plausible that recess was drawing to a close or the ball was being misused. Andreas got mad and called the teacher the N-word. The teacher grabbed his arm and took him to the principal's office. This is where I'm smiling and applauding.
The boy allegedly asked the teacher, "Can you please let go?" and claims the grip grew tighter and teacher started to wiggle his arm around "like a toy." I'm betting he was flailing around in an attempt to jerk himself free. No doubt little Andreas threw a worse tantrum since he was being busted and about to face consequences. No doubt he learned that technique at home with his mom.
The exaggeration continues. According to the boy, the teacher's hand just happened to land where a bruise was and the pain was enough to cause him to yell and scream. (Why do I keep hoping to hear the parental mantra of the 1950s: "I'll give you something to cry about!"?)
Little Andreas' defiance continues when you read in the story that Andreas was commanded to go to the office and he said, "No, I'm going into my class to get my belongings."
The teacher allegedly grabbed little sweet Andreas by the throat and supposedly pinned him to the wall. Here's where teacher made a mistake. The teacher should have grabbed him by the ear and pulled him down into the office like generations before me.
Mom, of course, goes to the police. Officers wring this admission from Andreas: the sweet angel was cursing at the teacher and calling him derogatory names including the N-word. During the first hands-on Andreas was hitting the teacher. Can you say self-defense?
The teacher denies hands around throat.
Amanda Cuellar (where's dad?) is quoted as telling Fox 40: "They're not angels. And they are going to use inappropriate words when their parents aren't around. But that still does not give someone the right to put their hands on someone they are supposed to be protecting. I really don't want this teacher to be teaching any more. He shouldn't be hurting kids. It's not right."
We've heard this before. We hear it all the time. Poor little Michael Brown didn't deserve to be shot in Ferguson, even though he roughed up a store clerk minutes before and then charged at a cop. Never mind that Michael Brown was 6-foot-4 and weighed nearly 300 pounds.
The real story in America is not police or teachers getting rough with students; it's about parents who set their kids up for failure by failing to teach the most important lesson of all: humility, respect for authority and property and the importance of obeying the law.
I'm not saying teachers should take the Wyatt Earp approach to discipline. I'm not so sure the teacher in Sacramento did. But it's very sad we're not paddling kids in a day when so many sorely need to sense that adults love and care for them so much that they're willing to do the very tough job of administering punishment on a physical scale. If you ask me, the teacher may be the hero and the mom the villain.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org