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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000201.txt from 2001/02

From: "Kenneth Wolman" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] chaos being sold for freedom...
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001 02:39:52 -0500

Some select aspects of Doug's posting puts some things in mind that
probably need to be said, at least by me.

> > Parents are a great cause of our children's lack of
> > structure because the laws are so accutely defined as "in
> > support" of our youth, that parents are afraid to discipline
> > their children; many parents have admitted to me (I talk a
> > lot to other parents). Teachers, in the classrooms are also
> > afriad, but most admit to being uninterested in arguing with
> > the principal or aprents, and many teachers do not want to
> > get involved.... SO many teachers wash their hands of
> > discipline...just like many parents.

I submit it goes a bit beyond parents being afraid to discipline their own
children. This will sound horrible, but the worst legacy of the Columbine
massacre almost two years ago was that it shifted the protection of the
school and justice system away from the victim and over to the
victimizer...because those two kids who went on that horrific rampage that
morning in that high school in Littleton were, let us remember, bullied and
harrassed long before they prepared that terrible revenge. As a former
victim of school bullies in the so-called Kindler and Gentler 1950s, the
age of "Happy Days" and other such TV crap, I will admit that when the news
broke, I understood all too well what might have gone through those kids'
heads because something like it also had gone through mine. I consider
myself blessed that I did not have the means, the companion in misery, or
the final snap into insanity that would have allowed me to act out on that
desire to avenge myself. The misfits I had for company were into music,
not guns; and those little squiggles on the page probably contributed to
saving my life.

Post-Columbine, however, the weight of protection is afforded not to the
school punching bag or victim but to the victimizer. "Zero tolerance"
means "zero tolerance for anyone who hits back," and I have seen with my
own eyes and in my own second family how school bullies are allowed to run
rampant and get away with unholy hell because officialdom--even in private
schools--is scared to death of lawsuits, parents with money, and anything
that suggests A Potential Problem. So they allow other kids to bear the
brunt of slow torture. The lesson that both sides learn is clear: Might
Makes Right. Now, if THAT ain't the Amurrrican Way, what is? The Great
White Fleet, Gunboat Diplomacy, Bomb Hanoi, etc., all of it reduced to a
ride on a school bus. Nice to know that some truths remain eternal, isn't

> > Finally, my conversations and observations have led to my
> > theory, that the law, in protecting children from many harms
> > is also letting children harm themselves and their own
> > future, but now parents and teachers need protection from
> > students. Teachers have recently been quitting their jobs
> > and many have sought positions in smaller, rural schools.
> > But even some of the rural schools have students who are
> > stabbing teachers, and disrupting class.

My former brother-in-law, who taught History for a year in a Bridgeport, CT
public high school, was fired for touching a student. Not lewdly, not in
an, he was fired for DEFENDING himself because he was attacked
by an armed "child" who he told me looked like and was built like Rickey
Henderson. But Steve was not allowed to strike back: better he take a
straight razor cut across his gut or windpipe than lift his hand against
one of the Precious Darlings.

> > I hug and kiss my boys goodnight every night, and sit by
> > their side for a few moments every night, and rub their
> > back, and talk and listen.... I take 30-45 minute walks
> > with each one alone, at least 3-4 times per week.
> > Discipline, I feel, begins with the strong bond between
> > parent and child, before children will feel any inclination
> > to follow a set of policies or rules. With love, a child
> > will follow most any rules without question. Many children
> > are not getting the hugs and kisses from parents.

My sons are now 22 and 19. The elder is a graduate student in Boston, the
younger goes to college in Baltimore. They have survived some pretty
soul-shaking events in the last few years. They survived the long slow
collapse of their parents' marriage (note: I am one of those parents),
their parents separating in 1997 and divorcing a year later, and the
acknowledgement several months ago by said male parent that he is an
alcoholic who has been sober--not just not drinking--for almost 13 months.
These kids came out of a pretty rocky household and landed on both feet
because, whatever mistakes we made, while our sons were young, we showed
them unlimited love that included setting limits on what was and was not
acceptable behavior. As crazy as my ex and I were or became (and when it
spilled over to our dealings in front of our kids, we knew it was time to
pack it in), we put them first.

For reasons of my own I've been doing a fair amount of reading in depth
psychology, and have come across a concept that appears to be central to
Jacques Lacan (maligned of some, beloved of others), the concept of the
mirror and how kids learn from imagery. Of course I only (at this point)
have only the slightest idea of what I'm reading (Lacan is a hard shell),
but what I'm taking away thus far is that children learn to love themselves
through identity with a loving parent, setting aside the whole issue of
Freudian concepts of desiring to possess the parental image. Before I ever
heard of Jacques Lacan, when my older son was an infant, I took him into
the bathroom with me one day and held him up to see what I called "the baby
in the mirror." Jake was at first terrified. Then something happened. He
recognized me, or my image in the glass. And inferentially...if that was
me...then the person being held had to be him...and he broke out into this
enormous mile-wide grin directed at both of us. In other words, he learned
to love himself by recognizing himself being protected by someone who loved
him and whom he learned to love, and whom he could forgive when the time

I'm not suggesting that that we hold our kids up in front of mirrors and do
some sort of Kunta Kinte thing ("Behold, the only thing greater than
thyself!")--though we could probably do worse. But I suspect that
self-love and love of the Other--the parent--are so inextricably bound that
they help kids grow up to overcome the insanity that flows around them,
even if it winds up being OUR insanity. I think what Doug was saying is
that we are the first gift we give our children.

Kenneth Wolman
"...perhaps we really complete those we love, fulfill their finally
unchanging essence, when they're gone from us, when we take into ourselves
their portions of them still available to us, to acknowledge them more
perfectly, more purely, and do homage to the fugitive, protean forms of
love of, and love from."--C.K. Williams, "Misgivings"

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