When I was a child, I was well behaved. I didn’t back chat my parents, because I wasn’t game. I didn’t back chat my teachers, because they were in charge, and they knew better. In 13 years of schooling, I received one (well-deserved) detention. Other children clowned around, I laughed but did not join in. I did my homework. I did my assignments. By myself. My mother did not do them for me. I won academic prizes. I had perfect attendance. Ok, so I was a complete nerd, but a happy, well behaved nerd.
Darren was a bastard as a child. He thought his name was Jesus Christ, because that was what he heard. As in, "Jesus Christ! What have you done?" He had a motor mouth, and could not resist any opportunity to share his wit with others. At school, and at home, he was flogged every day of his life. He spent more time outside the classroom than inside, because he COULD NOT CONTROL HIMSELF. Or, should I say, WOULD not control himself.
Mollie is Darren’s child in every way. She will argue black is white. She is never wrong, she knows everything and she will not back down. She is lucky the cane has been banned, because she would definitely be in company with her father: flogged every day of her life.
Discipline has changed a lot over the years. Whether you agree or disagree with corporal punishment, and there are many strong arguments for and against it, it is now a thing of the past. Being threatened with the stick was no deterrent for Darren, and I doubt if it would deter his daughter. The modern equivalent of the stick, is ‘the card’. At Mollie’s school, the colour of the card denotes the seriousness of the offence. It’s taken me a couple of years to understand the system, because I was innocent of the fact that my child had ever received ‘a card’. Personally, I would have been mortified had I received a card. To Mollie, it’s a badge of honour. A recent conversation went something like this:
Child: Miss H has a new method of disciplining us
Mother: What’s that?
Child: The Purple Card
M: And how does that work?
C: Well, if you’re naughty or annoy her, she gives you a purple card. If you get three purple cards, she writes a letter to your parents.
M: God help you if you bring a letter home!
C: Some kids already have three purple cards, and it only started on Monday! I’ve only got one!
M: *death stare*
C: Um, oops, didn’t mean to say that!
M: What did you do?
C: Can’t remember!
Anyhoo, the report card came home tonight. No mention of coloured cards, no unpleasant surprises, generally speaking, a reasonably good result. This led to a conversation about behaviour, discipline, etc. Have I ever mentioned the fact that Mollie can’t help dobbing herself in? It may be a symptom of being an only child, where she has no one else to blame, but she inevitably drops herself in it every time. So, we’re chatting, and she says "X was about to throw a whiteboard duster at the ceiling fan today, but the teacher saw him and reminded him that he was going to be school captain next year, so when she turned her back I told him to pass it to me! I threw it at the fan and it bounced off the wall and hit a computer monitor". Guess who HASN’T been elected school captain? I asked her if she got a purple card, and she replied that she hadn’t been caught. The following conversation ensued:
Child: I got a yellow card the other day though.
Mother: What’s a yellow card?
C: It’s badder (sic) than a purple card.
M: Badder? You mean worse. What did you do?
C: Whatever. I got caught spraying water.
M: Who did you spray water at?
C: The ground.
M: And that led to a yellow card?
M: Well what does a yellow card mean?
M: *choking sound* You had a detention? You got a detention for spraying water at the ground?
C: *eye roll* I was SUPPOSED to have a detention. I didn’t go.
M: *splutters* What do you mean you didn’t go? How does anyone not go to detention?
C: Easy, I stayed away from the detention room and the teacher who gave me the yellow card.
M: They don’t have a list of who is supposed to be in detention?
C: Apparently not.
Oh my God. What is the point of a punishment that doesn’t punish? Why give a child a detention and not follow it up? And why does spraying water at the ground constitute an offence punishable by detention? What a stupid thing to give a detention for. These people are educating our children! Does anyone else find that terrifying?