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Norms And Values

Posted by Mummy Dearest on Mar-9-2004

Like I suppose everywhere else in the Western world, a topic which is lobbed back and forth in the media here is that of ‘norms and values’. You know, what they are, whether they are fading away within modern society, if they are, who’s fault it is and on and on and on, truly ad nauseum.

And being the good little wife and mother that I am, I am trying to instill a sense of ‘norms and values’ into the cherubs. After all, who wants to raise a passel of juvenile delinquents ? Yes, that’s my boy , graduate of San Quentin.

One complaint that I read rather often about the whole ‘norms and values’ circus, in the newspapers, is that school teachers are finding that too much of the burden of raising the children- so to say- is being left to them. I can see that point of view, appreciate it even.

And yet lately, after having offspring within the same school system for the past 9 years, I find myself becoming annoyed with that very same school. Odd, in that I’ve always found everything done there just hunky- dory.

I suppose that the first sour note had to do with that cootie control business. Starting in about 3rd or 4th grade, the children spend some time each year on a topic called ‘Boss of my own body’. This is meant to teach them what is and is not acceptable treatment of children, to discuss unwanted physical contact, to instill deep within them the knowledge that they have rights over their bodies which no one can infringe upon.

Until the school wants to do a school- wide cootie control. As a child, The Girl had no rights as to whether or not someone would pick over her scalp, whether she wanted this or not. Nope, I was the one who controlled the permission for this. Now, is she the boss of her body or am I ? When I told the school that I felt that it was The Girl’s call, they told me they felt that it was a parental decision.

As far as I am concerned, it is and always will be The Girl’s call. It’s her head.

Of course, the episode today with The Baby annoyed me. Yes, The Baby is different, she is half ‘foreign’ ( even though it is not the sort that many frown upon), but still, in a ‘multi- cultural society ‘ ( another popular slogan in the media here), this sort of mocking should be stopped at once. But again, it’s the teacher’s choice. I know it won’t be the last time that my being different might anger or hurt my children. Such is life.

But should not be in a school within a ‘multi- cultural society’.

The last thing that annoyed me happened when I ran off to the Big City and left the children at school for lunch. It was an utter disaster. The Baby- who is terrified of M’s Mommy- was indeed placed in M’s Mommy’s group and became so upset that she could not eat. Oh, it’s a long and biased tale, told by an over-protective mother ( that’s me), but the germinal point of the story is that objections were raised when The Girl went to comfort The Baby. This is a lunch. This is her sister.

This is her sister. Maybe I should have married into the Mob or something, but I insist that the children – who fight non- stop privately- stick up for each other out there in the big, bad world. That they are loyal , help each other in times of trouble. Present a united front.

Or perhaps that is just the G.I.Joe set of ‘norms and values’ that I was raised with. Perhaps ‘Civilian’ ones are indeed different.

  1. Dorothy Said,

    How sad for Meg. It’s a wonderful talent she has speaking 2 languages, wish I could do it better. We try for the united sibling front as well. The kids haven’t been at the same school yet, but will be in a couple of years & I fully expect them to help each other when they encounter trouble from “outsiders.” Hmmm, how does the boy feel about a large dog sitting on him? Perhaps that would cheer Meg up.

  2. Marjan Said,

    Oh My…..Sue! You know we feel different about lots of issues. This is one we differ very strongly upon.

    Here in the Netherlands we have discussion upon discussion about immigrants who come here and who we (as in all Dutch!) want to force to integrate with the Dutch. We require them to learn our language, to study our laws and religions etc. And the people we then talk about are mostly Muslims…from Morocco, Turkey, Iraq, Iran etc…. Lot of these people are illiterate but still we require them to be able to speak Dutch, to carry on conversations, even to fill out legal forms in Dutch. And if they aren’t successful fast enough then society frowns upon the men and women who still speak in poor Dutch after being here for many many years.

    Sue, your own political party of choice (The VVD, and hence you because you voted for that party) wants these people to learn Dutch even before entering the country….

    And then there’s you….a smart, western, literate (graduated college and all) woman who has lived here for 19 years who doesn’t speak enough Dutch to carry on a conversation with a kindergarten teacher or a fish-salesman at the market. And you ask for a bit more sympathy in this multi-cultural society in which we live in.

    For the American readers of this blog…..
    How would you feel if in your kids kindergarten-class there was a polish woman who lived in the country for 19 years wasn’t able to carry on a conversation in English with the teacher?

    I don’t say this to pick a fight (you know me better than that!) I simply do not understand it at all! I commend you Sue, for raising your kids bilingual, they will have great advantage from it. But….. I really think you should set the example for them an try to become bilingual too. Han did that, the kids do it, now it’s your turn. I think it’s common courtesy to the teachers, the store-clerks, the moms-of-other-kids, to all people you meet. Common courtesy. You’re so lucky a lot of people here speak English…but I think you got away way too long with not learning how to speak Dutch.


  3. sue Said,

    Marjan, the attack was not against me, but against Meg, who speaks Dutch perfectly well.

    It is she the teacher should have defended and explained.

    Not me.

    And I still owe you an e-mail, lazy weasel that I am !( Actually not lazy, but finally catching up on everything that piled up while I was speedless…)

  4. Angel Said,

    Hmmmm I have so much to say and so many thoughts but I’ll just stick w/the basics… I agree w/you the teacher should have defended Meg… I almost agree w/the teachers complaining they are expected to take on more and more of the “raising” of our children however on the same note they are with our children for 6-8 hrs each day so why shouldn’t they have some active participation in raising our children… that’s not to say they should COMPLETELY raise our children… It seems to me that in direct relation to society seeming to expect more from the schools/teachers that they schools/teachers are doing LESS… Just my opinion… BTW I agree w/you about the children backing each other and showing a united front in public regardless of the bloodshed at home and that is how I raise my children as well… So far it’s worked so well we have had to remove Deven from the room when Dilen was being treated by a doctor a few times as HE was ready to deck the doc and rescue his brother… he has even told ME not to fix a boo boo cause he knows the immediate first aid will cause Dilen some pain… of course 10 min later they are going to kill each other again but the dedication between the two is heart warming.. {{HUGS}} I must say I don’t envy you sometimes and I always sympathize with you…

  5. Marjan Said,

    Sue, I suspect the teacher may have not reacted to the boys comments because she wanted to make a point to you. And Meg became the victim off that.

    I agree, it was horrible of her to let the boy do that. Meg should not be mocked at all for being bilingual!

    My reaction to you had more to do with the news, the vvd’s stance on this, knowing you are pro-vvd and then also your experiences on this who are likely very equal to those who are being attacked by the VVD-policies… It’s hard to put that together. Not at all logical in my mind.

  6. sue Said,

    Marjan, no need to explain : I know where you are coming from. The way things are now, I would no more be welcomed here than I was on that plane to America last summer.

    But the thing that is impossible for you to imagine is our situation, with Han’s work. He works for himself. A dozen or more people back up his ideas here in the Netherlands and support their families on what they are paid.

    A dozen more in Italy. Scores more in Poland. Hundreds in China and India.

    He is not a bad or greedy man, as you must know by now, but at times the overwhelming bureaucracy here in the Netherlands is very biased against someone actually providing employment.

    ‘Nuff said. I prefer not to be serious, as you know. We just exist in on a different facet of the law than you do.

  7. sue Said,

    Hi Angel- I’ve been looking for you ! Update, please, so I can follow .

    But from what you have said : mucho hugs and thoughts of Elisabeth.

  8. sue Said,

    Julie- don’t let Marjan send you running under your covers ! She’s one of the kindest people I know, just likes to speak her mind.

    Julie, about the Dutch- I don’t know what words I would use, but I myself like them fine. As I have said before, I’m not a very sparky sort of person, cheerful, so it was nice to find a place where no one expected that of me.

    I also think that where- exactly- you are might make a difference. They say the South is ….jollier, and small, rural communities are always a tough nut to break , unless that is where Will ( ?) is from…

  9. sue Said,

    Oh, and Marjan, one thing that pisses me off quite a bit is the tendency for everyone in the whole world- it seems- to blame the break-down in ‘norms and values’ on women working outside of the home. I hate, hate, hate that. For I don’t find it to be true.

    Taking Han’s home town as an example, and seeing how it has changed, I can find a number of reasons for what has happened. Perhaps- just maybe- at the bottom of the list is Mommy working. But I doubt it.

    The ebbing influence of the church, the arrival of cars…. one day, maybe, when I actually feel like being serious, I can point some fingers myself, for a change.

  10. Marjan Said,

    I agree Sue, I hate it when they do that. Although now that I am a teacher (and busy installing ‘norms and values’ to other peoples kids day in day out (for outsiders I teach history to kids age 12-18)) I seem to be excused and ‘allowed’ to work outside the home….DUH!

    Oh and Julie, you know the saying about dogs that bark?… well I make more noise than Elvis and Buddy together and I am just as harmless :-)

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