Saturday, October 21, 2017
I spent nine years in junior high school. I admit that I was a late bloomer, but not that late. Seven of those years were teaching junior high school 30 years ago. In other words, I’ve spent a fair amount of time being and then teaching those ages. I’ve also seen who these children become, as some of my earliest students are now in their early 50s. And based on those experiences, I believe that it’s insulting to children to compare the current president’s behavior to theirs.
Yes, pre-teens/teens can be petulant, petty, emotional, rash. Yes, they can speak without the benefit of prior thought. Yes, they can make up names for people and denigrate people without forethought for what that means for those people or to their own humanity. They can lie incessantly and almost without knowing they are lying. They can play one friend off of another to gain advantage over both. And, yes, those are all traits of the current president.
But children of that age are also incredibly inquisitive, deeply loyal, willing to work hard and commit, idealistic, and above else able to learn and evolve as humans – not characteristics that anyone would ascribe to the president. They will “hate” one minute and “love” the next minute in their march toward adulthood. But that’s part of the malleability of their growth. As they cope with life changes, new-found responsibilities, and challenges, they adapt. They become talented musicians and plumbers and scientists and bus drivers. They become us, the adults of the society. And that transformation isn’t something that somehow magically occurs at some age or stage. It’s a slow process of maturation that begins in childhood and gets tempered with time and life.
Contrast that to a fully formed adult who exhibits the destructive behaviors of a 13-year-old child. When a child is petulant, rash, and hurtful toward others, we help the child modify those behaviors. That way, the behaviors don’t hinder that child’s long-term emotional and social growth. Eventually, most children learn the difference between ineffective and effective ways to engage the world. So it’s unfair to compare a fully formed adult like the president to children because, as an adult, he had opportunities to change. An adult who doesn’t change those behaviors reifies the behaviors into how he experiences the world and expresses himself in it. That’s very different than what children do as they learn from mistakes and mature beyond ineffective and destructive mannerisms.
So let’s stop the unfair comparisons to our children.