Not My Kids | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

Not My Kids | Mark’s Remarks

By on September 19, 2018 at 9:30 am

I am constantly amazed at how parents behave. I am no different. We tend to think our kids are a cut above. I think we should to some extent.

Our kids are special to us. We expect teachers to treat them as such, which is hard for teachers to do with all the students they have. However, even though I’m a teacher, I still sometimes feel my kids need special treatment. Perhaps it’s part of our makeup as parents.

However, I’ve always believed the Bernie Mac approach to parenting: always watch your back. I mean, come on parents: kids are humans just like us.  They will lie, cheat, steal, etc. just like everyone else. Or at least they will be tempted. No kid is perfect, and I’ve met some nearly perfect kids. They all have the human instinct to cover their rear ends from time to time.

Bernie Mac wrote a great article in TV Guide years ago before he died. It was called “McNuggets of Wisdom,” and I urge you to Google it. It’s a good read. It speaks of good old-fashioned discipline and parental love and guidance.

I like to think I’ve been fairly realistic about what my kids are capable of. One of my kids thought waltzing into a teacher’s classroom and eating candy off her desk was OK. At least one of my kids shared homework answers with friends and was nabbed by a teacher. My kids have lied, stolen, spit and said bad words. I still love them and I don’t think they are bad kids at all. I also couldn’t care less if someone thinks I’m an awful parent if my kids have committed crimes. Think what you may.

But both you and I know there are children who do no wrong in the eyes of their parents, even when the evidence is there. There are parents who are recorded in the annals of  school history as parents you shouldn’t mess with. Those are the parents who find out their child has done something wrong, only to turn it around and make it the fault of someone else or even the adult reporting it. I’ve seen it at church and in the community, not just at school.

Do your job and discipline these kids, but don’t dare say my kid did anything wrong.  The defense mechanisms kick in.

I don’t know how many times I’ve spoken to a parent about a child’s behavior and I’ve been told I shouldn’t seat them next to “so and so.” Many times, parents want to know what happened to the other kids involved in a group altercation with their own child to make sure the punishments were fair all around.  Such concerns seem paramount to the actual fact that their child did something wrong.

I once tried to explain a very simple miscommunication to some parents, the end result being that their child had gotten the story wrong. Neither of them were having any of it. I tried to explain what had happened on two separate occasions. Each time, the parents talked over me, interrupted and almost went so far as to hold up their hands for me to stop talking. Not their child.

I finally gave up and accepted the fact they would never know what really happened.  And really, what good would I do? It would have made me feel better, but I doubt I would have caused a life change for either of them.

Probably the most famous story I remember from my years as a teacher is of a student who was caught red-handed, stealing in the classroom.  He confessed, wrote a letter to his parents and was prepared to go home and face the consequences. The parent who was told about the crime refused to hear it, even though the child himself was saying it.

“I don’t believe you did that.  There must be a mistake.”  Even though the child stood there and said, “But mom/dad I really did do it,” the parent would not hear it.

A lengthy conference was held in which the school, the teachers involved and other students were held accountable, although none of them had anything to do with the crime. This student acted alone and was stepping up, doing the right thing. This was an extreme case, but it’s one that shows how far parents can go.

When it comes to our kids, emotions run high and we are often unable to see clearly.

When my kids tell me about another kid or an adult talking rough or doing anything negative, the papa bear instinct kicks in and I, just like many other parents, want to go do something about it. I’ve only acted on such impulses a couple of times, and it turned out to be a bad decision. I regret it. I don’t recommend acting on such impulses.

I try to breathe and chalk it up to life experiences. Kids need to know they can’t always win, and life is not the perfect thing you see depicted on Facebook. They need to know that it’s OK to confess that they did something wrong, and it’s extremely important to know that even if there are consequences, he or she will be forgiven.

It’s all part of life.

And whether you believe it or not, your kid is guilty.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.