Friday, September 09, 2005

# 54 RIGHTEOUS LIES

Now that the kids are back in school I thought I would resurrect a post that I wrote a couple years ago. It has a devious plot but one that might be helpful for parents dealing with unhappy kids. This is my story.

Youngest Daughter did very well in school from Grades 1 – 4. But come Grade 5, all that changed. That year, almost immediately, YD decided she hated her teacher and furthermore that her teacher hated her. And because of this belief, she was deliberately as disruptive in class as she could be. Even when home, she whined constantly about her 'dumb' teacher and the misery of school. Some days she was so reluctant to board the bus that Hub and I thought we were going to have a Grade 5 dropout.

So when I it was time for parent-teacher interviews, Hub and I discussed the problem. When offspring are unhappy, mothers become way too tense. Aware of this, Hub felt obliged to take over. "Don't worry about it, Mom," he said, I'll look after it." So I stayed home and Hub went alone to the parent-teacher interviews.

Now Miss Educate was more than a little anxious to give Hub her opinion.

"Your daughter, Mr. Smith, is a problem," she said. "She is uncooperative and disruptive, difficult to deal with, and unwilling to apply herself to her studies. In fact I had to move her desk to an isolated location against that side wall because of the disruption she was causing for other students."

Hub listened quietly, then commented. "Miss Educate, I find it very difficult to absorb what you're saying. YD talks about you so much. She talks about how smart you are. How well you know your stuff. To hear her tell it, you are an exceptional teacher. So I really have a hard time understanding what is going on here."

This was the huge myth that Hub spun for YD's teacher.Later that evening when Hub came home, YD ran quickly to him. "What happened? What did my teacher say?"

With that Hub smiled broadly and began spinning another huge myth.

"Miss Educate said you are so funny, and always smiling. She said you are really smart too. She said that your big smile really makes her happy when she is feeling low."

Hub now looked serious. "But she also said, she doesn't know why you don't like her. Especially because she is so fond of you!"

Lies. Lies. All of it lies. But guess what, YD went back to school and immediately things changed. First day back YD's desk was back in the line-up with her other classmates. YD now completed all her schoolwork (and homework), and even did extra reading to be sure she knew everything there was to know about her assignments. She aced every subject and now demanded that I purchase gifts for Miss Educate on her Birthday. At Christmas she compelled me to make Miss Educate a cozy pair of knit slippers as well.

Now although YD finished school quite a few year's ago, she still remembers with unprecedented fondness her favorite teacher, Miss Educate. So obviously, I am in favor of teaching honesty, but I am keenly aware that sometimes righteous lies have a place as well.

2 Comments:

Blogger Molly said...

This is a wonderful story! Is it really true? It is almost too amazing to be believed. But it does illustrate the power of 'spin' to be used for the forces of good, for once.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi molly. Yes, this is a true story that just emphasizes how much 'perception' colors our world. If we perceive that others are treating us with indifference, we respond by treating them with indifference. And if we perceive they are treating us with favor, we respond by treating them with favor. I found that quite surprising, but indeed it is true.

4:44 PM  

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