Monday, July 30, 2012

Too much communication!

I came up before cell phones existed. I walked to a New York City public school, and my mother took the subway to work at wherever she was assigned as a Transit Authority railroad clerk. If I  got sick during the school day, I pretty much descended into a lethargic mass until the end of the day, then walked home and went to bed. I was rarely sick enough to warrant a visit to the school nurse, and not once did I have a condition that required a call from my "Medical Contact" card.

Such experiences gave me a realistic sense of what's what. "I don't feel good" is in a completely different category from "Call my mom because I'm sick." I think one's emotional health is hinged on having a balanced understanding of such differences. I teach high school students who have "under the weather" type days quite often. (Who doesn't?) For most of them, the first response is, "Can I call my mom, or my grandma?" My response is always, "Of course you can, if you are really sick, but I saw you laughing a few minutes ago, so I'm not sure you're really sick. You probably just don't feel so good." Then I give my lecture about wasting a working person's sick days, and then I have to explain what they are. Then I tell them about me and my mom, and me and my daughter. And I explain to them that really sick usually involves intense pain, or vomiting, or diarrhea, or swollen glands, or a fever, or a pallor, or listlessness, etc. I think I owe this to the parents and grandparents who will be stressed out by a call saying that their loved one is too sick to function.

But! I'd say about 7 times out of 10, I'll get a call from the office within the 90-minute class period saying that the child is being picked up by a parent or caregiver. The same child who is now chatting it up and gossiping at the computer with pals as they're working on their projects. But the parent has been secretly texted, and I get a creepy crawly feeling about what kinds of kids we're raising.

It's important for parents and caretakers to teach young people clear enough boundaries about: 1)  school day communications, and 2) what constitutes a medical intervention. Such responses to mild discomfort, in my opinion, give them unrealistic ideas about their own strength and ability to endure the headaches of life. This is really unfortunate because the true discomforts in life, which are still bearable, will seem like a living hell to them. To take it a step further, I think this has a lot to do with the overmedication of our society... because once you're grown up and you can't call mom, who do you call? The doctor!

1 comment:

  1. So true! I also teach at the high school level and I often tell my students how much more self-reliant, organized and forward thinking one had to be before cell phones.

    If you forgot your sneakers for gym you received an "unprepared" for the day. You did NOT receive your sneakers from your mom who you texted just prior to gym!


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