Normally, a 2am text is a cause for alarm, but there’s an 8 hour difference between here and Barcelona, Spain, and that’s often the time that our son has been messaging me. He is on a trip with a group from our town, travelling to Spain, southern France, and Italy; and for the most part, besides being tired and having one rainy day, he is having an amazing time.
Which is good, because travelling doesn’t always bring out the best in people. You are exhausted, it’s stressful, and things aren’t like home. We’ve travelled with our kids a lot, almost every summer to the USA, and they know that in small and big ways people are not the same all over. So when we first found out that they were paired up with a group from Pittsburgh, we talked about being patient and polite. When they met the other group, it was 1/3 kids and 2/3 adults. He still had some reservations, so our text conversations shifted to giving people the benefit of the doubt, and that first impressions aren’t always as they seem. Things seemed to settle in for the kids.
The adults in the other group? A whole other story.
Whenever I hear complaints about “kids these days” I take them with a grain of salt. Granted, some of them will be valid, but after twenty years, I know that kids are literally just kids. They have such limited experience with life, that they make a lot of mistakes. They can misinterpret situations and misjudge their reactions. They are impulsive and often their filters don’t work consistently. But they are also full of wonder, kindness, questions, and concern for others.
I have infinite patience when kids mess up. They’re still learning. I’ve written before that an area I continue to work on is remembering that adults are learners too. That they need differentiation just like kids do. I totally get that.
But……it’s tough to remember when this series of texts starts rolling in at 2am.
Only 9 kids with the other group and the rest are adults. They have made us late and make a real fuss about everything. We talked about this at supper and this morning as well. Today we are supposed to leave at 9. It’s now 9:16….
And it didn’t get better.
Just saw the La Sagrada de Familia and it was awesome. But of course we lost one of the americans so now we get less time to see the city and some of Gaudis architecture. I’m trying really hard not to let it ruin my trip but when I have to rush or only get a few mins at some places now it really does wreck it.
Yah found them. The tour guide just ripped her. It was an adult. Classic American tourist wants to go to Europe then complain that it’s not America when they’re here.
We’ve encountered that a lot in our travels, and that’s not to say that all Canadian tourists are amazing either. Of course they aren’t. But we’ve tried to practice the ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ attitude when we travel, and to take in as much of the local culture as possible. We balance seeing the sights with getting off the beaten path.
As our kids got older, we also tried to appreciate the sights that we see with the knowledge that so many of these amazing structures and places were built with the power and money gained from the oppression of other people. That sometimes getting off that beaten path was literally as close as a tent city of the homeless a block or two away from the great opulence. It’s not about sucking the fun out of travel, but at a minimum, acknowledging the reality of the place we were in, and appreciating our privilege to both visit these places and to come home again.
To differing degrees, you can see most kids get that. They understand what the social norms are depending on the situation or place they are in. They say good morning. They use their manners. They hold doors open (even when adults suspiciously go to the next door instead of one being held open!?)
Of course there are kids that don’t get it.
I wonder if they just haven’t been exposed to many different situations? Yet another reason why we always took our kids out with us to restaurants when they were little.
Never had the norms of that place reinforced? Ahem, just because it’s a rink, doesn’t mean that you get to run wild.
Never had anyone model that behavior? Plausible, but make sure I catch myself from making assumptions about their lives.
A better check: am I modelling that behavior myself?
Which is why, in a world that is more technology-dominated and less physically-connected than ever before, I strongly believe in working with kids on social and emotional learning. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about restorative alternatives when they don’t. It’s all those things we want from them as adults in the ‘real world.’
Hmmmmmmm…..like being on time on a tour??
Maybe it’s the hypocrisy that gets me most when adults complain about kids.
Kids are late? Lock the doors. Reem them out for being late without ever asking why.
Adult late to a meeting? Comes in and sits down. No interrogation.
Kids don’t have a writing utensil? Huuuuge deal. You’ll have to do without.
Adult forgets a pen for that same meeting? Quietly asks to borrow one.
Kids need to use the washroom during class time? We just had a break. You can wait until noon.
Adult needs to go? Doesn’t ask admin for permission, quietly leaves and returns.
Kids don’t have assignment done on time? Late marks or don’t accept it at all.
Adult didn’t complete that form for the SPTRB? Email reminder to get it done as soon as you can.
Kids get an essay assigned to complete over the holiday week?
Adults….okay, I can’t even imagine this one. I would have had a few choice words if admin had assigned some mandatory reading or a project over the break.
*And just to be clear, you won't hear those lines in my classroom!
The Easter Sunday sermon wasn’t on the golden rule, but it’s one I try to remember: treat other people as you’d like to be treated. And for me, that’s something I live by in my classroom. Honestly, the real world is the one we are in right now. The ‘fake one’ is really the contrived rules and expectations, and our responses, that we set up for kids in school that simply don’t exist anywhere else.
To the adults who I will never meet, but who are causing stress to my kid somewhere in Spain, get your shit together and act like…well, act like your responsible kids….and show some courtesy to your fellow travellers.
And to my education colleagues, enjoy the break and recharge. Get better, some of you that were sick! And read if you want to, not because someone made you. I’m hoping my students are doing all of those things too. See you next week!
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.