moms and the mannerless
Today a letter came home from my children’s principal, the woman who last year came to our school like a breath of fresh air, replacing a long-ready-for-retirement administrator and bringing innovation and excitement to our elementary school. She is stern, yet fair. Fun, yet effective.
So it really upset me that she had to send a letter home that began, “We continue to have parents who do not follow our school policies.”
The letter went on to list five policies that are currently being ignored by enough parents to warrant a school-wide letter. These policies include simple matters of safety such as signing in when you visit the school, signing your child out if you are taking him home, dropping children at the drop-off cones rather than in traffic, and sending a note in to the school if a child’s afternoon transportation routine has changed.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, it is impossible to deny the importance of doing what we can to protect our children’s safety. So what could explain the fact that so many parents – mostly moms – are ignoring basic safety procedures?
One word – rudeness.
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania where traditions are honored and authority is respected without question. My parents respected my school even when they disagreed with policies. Cars without handicapped tags steered clear of specially marked spaces. Shopping carts were returned to the inside of the grocery store. And parents made certain that their children behaved.
Okay, so maybe I’m painting a bit of an idyllic picture of a utopian world, but the fact is that when I became a mom and began to interact with other moms here in the suburbs, I was shocked by a general disregard for other people from a disturbingly large proportion of parents.
I first noticed this blatant rudeness when I volunteered at my child’s preschool when she was two. The learning center, like all schools, had basic policies such as providing diapers for children not yet potty-trained and extra clothes in a sealed bag. I often found myself scrambling for clothes in the donations bin and for diapers in bathroom cupboards because parents simply disregarded their responsibility to provide these items. Drop-off and pick-up times were also apparently flexible in the minds of parents, moms often rushed in late without so much as an apology.
Then came the year when I won the preferred parking space at the school’s silent auction fundraiser. At the start of the next year I proudly put the special tag on my dashboard and prepared to pull into the space marked Auction Winner…except that when I went to pull into the space, there was already a car there. I thought it must be a fluke, but it happened a few times a week at either drop-off or pick-up, so often, in fact, that the school printed out “tickets” to be placed on hoods of cars and sent home a reminder to moms to not park there.
In my nine years of parenting, the list of offenses has continued to build. Play date emails that are simply ignored. Birthday party invitations with no RSVP. Moms who stand in gaggles of three and four chatting while their children bully other children on the playground. Some days I wish I still had those preschool tickets to hand out…
Are we flustered by taking on too much in our hectic lives? Are we so focused on our children that we’ve forgotten that there are other human beings around us? Have we simply stopped feeling responsible for our own behavior?
Amy Lupold Bair is the founder of Resourceful Mommy Media, inventor of the Twitter Party, and developer of the Global Influence Network for social media-savvy bloggers like herself. Amy shares the wisdom of a mom and the feedback of a thoughtful consumer on her blog, Resourceful Mommy.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and many other social media outlets.