I should have had ‘One of those talks’

I should have had ‘One of those talks’ with my daughter before she went to high school.  No, not the one about sex, and boys having germs – I’m a midwife, she’s heard more than enough about those things according to her: ‘TMI – mum, TMI.”

No, I’m referring to the talk about ‘Tact”  and maybe “Teachers and Humour.”  When I was discussing this with my stepmother she said ‘Well, she would only have got it from you!.’  Well, thank you very much!  It might be true, but I was looking for a little empathy you know?  It is true though.  I have an evil sense of humour.  My daughter didn’t have a sense of humour when she was a small child.  She would give you the ‘evil eye’ if you teased her, tried to take the mickey, or told a joke.  It was painful!  And of course, in Australia we do love to take the mickey out of people, so she was a living target.  She did finally find her ‘inner humour,’ boy, did she find it!  We often have a little chuckle together over what we are thinking.  We think alike, a lot.

It’s not a good look at school.  Not all teachers have a sense of humour.  A lot of them seem to have lost theirs, never possessed one, or feel that the classroom is a serious and humourless place.  Giggling teenage girls can be a problem for them.  You’ve heard teenage girls haven’t you?  They can’t seem to stop giggling for a second.  And they set each other off.  When you finally get them to stop and ask them what they were laughing at none of them knows!  One started and then it’s a domino effect and there is simply no reason.  I love it.  And it is very aggravating after a while.  I do recognise that fact.  You know it’s one of the reasons I don’t work in an area where teenage girls are common.  It’s true there are some pregnant teenage girls, but not as many as you might imagine.  A lot of parents are terrified of the unexpected pregnancy issue and spend a lot of time dwelling on it.  Frankly from where I sit (as a midwife) there are a few, but considering the population of teenagers, either they aren’t having as much sex as people seem to imagine, or they are having safe sex.  So you can all take a deep breath now and relax, ok?

Back to a good sense of humour!  I did once make a remark about wanting to buy a certain teacher a cheap sense of humour off ebay – a cheap one since I was pretty sure he wouldn’t make good use of it and I don’t have money to waste like that.  I’m wondering this year if ebay offers any ‘Bulk Discounts’ for them.

I do use humour to lighten tense situations.  It’s handy when you might like to say something you will wish you hadn’t later…a bit of humour can relieve things.  Except at school in most classes.  Humour like sarcasm is alive and thriving – but only if the teacher is the one dealing it out.

And that’s where I find the problem.  If humour or sarcasm is a two way street then it would be more equal.  In the classroom, well around here anyway, the teacher is normally in a position of power.  If they use it wisely, if they use a little humour or even a little sarcasm (they are teens in high school), and if the teachers are happy for the teens to use a little humour or sarcasm back then I would look on it as a bit of a learning curve.  There seems to be a bit of inequality in the classroom – the teachers seem to be allowed a little humour or sarcasm towards the teens but a teen who gives a humorous crack back, or a sarcastic reply is being rude and may get detention.  Complaining about getting a detention for replying in kind can warrant another detention.

Then comes the option of the parent going in to discuss the issue with the teacher/principal.  Let’s set the scene first?  As a midwife I am not really intimidated by Doctors, as some people are – Excuse me?  No, I’m sorry that’s not quite true.  Let’s look at that fact first shall we?

Yes, I can go up against them because I don’t have a feeling of them being in a position of hugely unproportionate power above me (yes, I did just make up that word unproportionate, but there should be a word like it imo.)   However, stand me up in front of a vet or a teacher, and I have jelly legs.  I find it very hard to stand or sit in front of them, eye to eye and say ‘Look you’re behaving like an …………’ let me rephrase that.  ‘You’re behaviour leaves a lot to be desired – I don’t like the way you are treating our children – You are good at dishing the dirt but not good at taking it’  There just doesn’t seem to be a way to put it.  I’m aware that some teachers are very good at assuring you they will take it all on board, and make every effort to rectify or improve the situation.  And some of them will make sure that they do.  Others will make sure that they observe your child closely and will be able to pick them up on every single misdemeanour from there on.  I don’t know about you but none of my children are perfect and so there is fodder for them to work with.   I find the inequality present a huge issue for me.

My way of dealing with it is:  Have the talk with the teen.  Grinners may be winners in some places, but grinning, giggling, laughing etc are not appreciated 100% at school.  Try, I repeat Try, to modify it.  Try also to refrain from saying ‘My mother….’  If your mother wants to tell the teacher something she will do so herself.  And hardest of all try not to ‘huff, and flounce off, with A Look’  at every thing you don’t agree with the teacher on.

Next, I try to discuss with other parents what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour in the kids, and in the teachers.  That way it’s easier not to get carried away before you calm down and engage all parts of your brain.

After that, discuss with the teen that if things do not improve you will stand up and go in to bat for/with them (and mean it.)   As with all situations where there is inequality of power just knowing that the situation is salvageable;  that you are not alone in the situation;  that you can call for backup if needed, those things can make you feel stronger.  They can make a difficult situation bearable, and with the confidence you have, I believe you are less likely to be targeted.

And so, I’m off to see how many ‘sense’s of humour’ are available  on ebay today – you’ll never guess what the teachers are getting for End of Year Presents this year will you? :))))))

In defence of the many teachers who have a brilliant and appropriate sense of humour I would like to recognise you as well.  Then there’s those with a quirky sense of humour – so much appreciated by me and mine;  and those with a quiet sense of humour, the small quiet smile that recognises the humour in the situation but does not need to laugh out loud – You are all appreciated and should be honoured.  For all those who can bear with our children/teens during their school years with your sense of humour intact, particularly the high school years, I value you beyond words.  Pity you couldn’t run a few workshops in the holidays for your humourless colleagues.

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