was cornered in the doctor's office by a woman who said her 'sweet' child suddenly turned into a 'monster' at age 16 and mine will, too. I seem to have this conversation a lot with people from outside my culture, especially when they see me with my 'well-behaved' daughter. Something about her behavior sets their teeth on edge, so I will address it.
To the woman in the doctor's office who claims her kid pulled a Jekyll & Hyde at age 16, I call bullshit. Madam, assuming there are no mental defects or other extenuating circumstances, I don't believe your child suddenly turned on you. Maybe your child was 'sweet' of his own accord when he was young, but I ask you, did you require that he be 'sweet?' Had you set any behavioral expectations, or were you just relying on his natural tendencies? Since you're cornering strangers like me in the doctor's office with tales of woe, I'm guessing you did the latter.
I've been watching a few television shows lately and I'm noticing a disturbing trend in which kids roll their eyes and zap their parents with caustic one-liners. Seriously! If my daughter did that... well let's just say I frequently remind her not to try that a home.
I'd like to see someone write a TV sitcom with a character like my mother. She came from a tradition where mouthy kids were met with swift retribution, where speaking to your mother like she's a junkyard dog was, frankly, not worth your professionally straightened teeth. My mother wasn't interested in being her child's friend. She didn't care whether you "liked" her or not. She only required that you respect her.
Hal Hutchison, M.Ed.
Hal Wofford Hutchison, M.Ed., is a former columnist, writer and editor for the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette newspapers. She has also been a secondary educator, and a university counselor and administrator. She lives in Little Rock, Ark., with her husband of 23 years and their daughter.