I am fascinated by Five's use of the word "appropriate." He is in first grade, and has been learning about "appropriate" behavior since pre-school. If a new show is debuting on Nickelodeon, he will ask me if it is "appropriate." He rats out his brother for his "inappropriate" behavior at tae kwon do. He will tell me if his group did not earn all their stars because a classmate was acting "inappropriate."
I enjoy hearing small humans say big words. I remember a barbecue years ago, when a friend's toddler asked for "more cantaloupe." My boy at that time could barely say "Mom," so I was very impressed. But I am ambivalent about the focus on "appropriate." I like that children are no longer being told they are "bad." But I worry about who is determining what is "appropriate."
Recently, I had a discussion with Three about his grades. He was complaining about his teacher, suggesting that she was crazy, and therefore, her judgment of him should be disregarded. I know this teacher, and he's not that far off base. However, one cannot use that as an excuse to do poorly in school. One must understand what the teacher wants from her students, and give it to her. It is a life lesson in how to succeed- in school, in business, in marriage if necessary.
I'm pretty sure Three has been labeled a problem student. He dances along the edge of the autism spectrum in relation to his ability to read social clues. We've discussed his self-centered world view. When his teachers communicate with me, their concerns usually center on his inability to make "appropriate choices." He can be distracted and chatty in class. He's fooling around in the halls with his friends. He and his friend were sent to the principal to discuss the hazards of throwing one's lunchbox across the soccer field, etc. etc.
I tried to get him to understand how middle school works.
"Three, who is the teacher that complains the most about your behavior?"
"Who is the teacher that continually separates you and your friends?"
"Who is the teacher that likes you the most?"
"Who is your second most-favorite teacher?"
"Do you see a pattern here?"
"Uh, I like the guy teachers better?"
"Yes! And they like you better. Teaching is a female-dominated profession, Three. And maybe some of these female teachers don't really understand guy behavior. So, it's up to you to give them what they want. Because they aren't going to change."
Now, I know that there are many, many skilled teachers in the world who can recognize differences in gender behavior and not label. I also know that when I go to a holiday concert at Four's special-education school, 85% of the population is male. I'm just saying there might be a slight bias against the penis-endowed. Either way, Three needs to learn what society considers appropriate behavior. He will be judged on it for the rest of his life.
Now I'm off to bed with the Captain, so I can give him his special birthday present. I'm sorry. Was that inappropriate?