500 Words At A Time: I am Not Your Parent

I am a parent.

I am not your parent.

Teaching by example or lessons is not something I mind doing. However, I have found that I do mind being a parent to other people’s children, especially when those children are considered adults by society and the government. There are behaviors that I believe everyone should know before they leave the house. I also know that I am dreaming when I hope that these things will be taught to everyone by their parents or school system. I dream of better days…

Being respectful. I know that I am not the most respectful person on the planet, but I know how to say please and thank you. At a minimum, everyone should know those things. Yet, there have been students for whom thank you is a foreign concept. If someone does something nice for you, say thank you. Especially when resources have been expended on your behalf, such as dinner. Nothing gets under my skin more than having people over for dinner or picking up a lunch bill and not getting a thank you.

Work ethic. What is a work ethic? Do the work to the best of your abilities, on time, and without complaint. At least that is my work ethic. Work is not something I show other people; I do the work away from school. However, when I have to be part of a group (group work…ugh) I expect that you will do your share and I will not have to show you how to work. But I have had to, I have had to teach students how to create a schedule, to stay on target, to work with others, to do more than just enough (bare minimum), and to stop bitching about everything, among other work related skills.

How to behave in public. Public behavior has taken a hit. I don’t know when, because for a while I stopped paying attention to public behavior or maybe it is public behavior among students in college. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have seen savaging each other to pieces behaving better: from overly loud public displays, swearing that makes me cringe and I swear a lot, to the inability to carry on a conversation without including an electronic device. I have had to explain to students why when they swear at the top of their lungs it is not cool. I shouldn’t have to do that. I have had to explain and ask that students put down the cellphone or tablet and actually look me and others at the table in the face when talking to them. It gets tiring.

How to Tip and How to Eat Out. Breaking bread with people is a big deal to me. I enjoy the social aspect and food (most of the time). However, I have had to teach how to tip, eat, carry on a conversation, and behave post eating. Unless wait staff is horrible to directly to me, I tip. I was a waiter, I know how much wait staff does not make in relation to how much bullshit they have to put with and I expect that people I am out to lunch or dinner with will tip. I have taught several students how to tip-from why you tip to how much you tip and why leaving spare change is a dick move.

Eating at a restaurant is not about shoving food into your pie hole, unless you are in a rush-if so don’t go out to eat with me. While waiting for food, during food, and post food make conversation. Have something to talk about. Better yet, have many things to talk about. Be able to listen and respond in a meaningful way. Don’t be an ass. Being a good dinner guest is more important than the food; people remember dinner guest, they do not remember the food as well.

When someone pays for your food, say thank you AND don’t freak out. We (meaning Barb and I), even with our limited funds, will pick up the bill for the table from time to time. We do not do this to put you in our debt or some other insidious plot or scheme (yes, I have been accused of both by students). We do this because it is a nice thing that we can do and we don’t expect anything in return. There have been students who freak out; ranging from concerns about being in debt to me to wondering what I really want. I get it, you are an “adult” and can pay your own way, however me paying for your food is not me trying to be your parent or shame you or some commentary on your life or ability to manage your funds. If someone is nice enough to pay your bill, just say thank you and at some point in your life do the same for someone else.

Please parents, teach your children these things at a minimum. If you are an adult going back to school, be prepared to be a teacher, a leader, an example, a guide, and yes, at times a parent.



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