On Friday we attended the homecoming parade for Warsaw and Hamilton schools. The parade was up in Hamilton this year, and Lizzy was on one of the floats as a “cheerleader.” It was a beautiful day, and Martin got a bunch of candy thrown to him. Success!!
Next to us were about four high school age boys, who kept running over in front of Martin to grap candy up off of the ground, sometimes wrestling each other for it. On one hand, I suppose that could have been amusing. My wife and I, however, were both appalled at how these boys interacted with some of the girls from the floats. Some of the girls would throw, and I mean throw candy at the boys, trying to hit them and the boys of course would perform all sorts of idiotic behaviors in front of them. Absolutely no respect either way. And why should there be, when the girls do not act like ladies, and the boys do not act like gentlemen. It really is appalling to watch. Girls hitting boys, boys swatting at girls, being sarcastic with each other, yelling at each other, calling each other names, it is so disturbing. Susan is reminded quite often that she is not to act like that.
I wonder sometimes what this means for our culture. Not only is there very little respect paid toward adults and teachers, but there is virtually no respect between peers. Look, I don’t expect kids to act like grown-ups. Kids will be kids. But shouldn’t there be at least the beginnings of lady-like and gentleman-like behavior in these kids? I was not real schooled in the ways of respectful behavior, but I do at least remember my dad always telling me to open the door for my date (all 3 of them in high school). I would never have even thought of swatting a girl, or trying to slap her butt. It makes me sad to watch it.
As an experiment, in my junior confirmation class a few years back, I tried to instill a little respect in the boys and girls towards me and each other. We began always with Vespers up in the church, and then reconvened downstairs. While I was putting my vestments away in the sacristy, the two boys and two girls went downstairs (these were 5th and 6th graders by the way). When I came into the room, they were expected to stand, and greet me: “Good afternoon Pastor Beisel” in unison. Then, I would greet them, and they would sit down, girls first, then the boys. It took maybe 3 weeks of prompting them to do this, and after that they were trained. They did it without any prompting, without any complaint. They just knew it was expected. I didn’t make a big deal of it, just told them what they had to do, and that was it. I wish this kind of thing would be done in our schools today. Imagine the respect it would foster. But, alas, I doubt this would ever be supported, unless it was a special school. I pray that my kids will grow up being respectful of adults and each other, sinfulness notwithstanding of course.