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How bad were you at school?

Response To Flash

Posted by R.J. on 2018-09-12 17:31:06

Likely I did touch the big difference in our upbringing and teen years. I wasn't that comfortable with messing up at either home or school. It happened, but it was rare, and I too attempted to keep it at minor/insignificant level. How I got punished was as you say similar with friends. They knew and I knew about each other, not that we really bragged about it but it was common enough that we openly spoke about it & I could say it might have been referred to as 'show n tell' when it happened. At school it was seen, just as it was with you & friends, whether seen sitting after school in a detention room or seen/overheard getting swats. Maybe a badge of honor as you have described it, and being one of the guys who endured what everyone else had at some point endured and survived and conquered it.

The let down was probably more internal guilt and anger with myself that I had made a 'stupid' choice/decision. I didn't have to prove to myself or anyone else that I could take the punishment dished out and come out a survivor. I had good terms with most all teachers, so yes, I felt I might have let them down because they knew and I knew that I could think & choose better than I had. Parents knew and so yes, I let them down by letting myself down. Won't say they laid a guilt trip on me over misbehavior but I probably saw or perceived disappointment in their eyes/expression.

Think I told you before that we had a dress code expectation too but that was truly a minor infraction if/when it happened. If caught it usually was simply verbal reprimand like tuck in your shirt or wear a belt in the future, or as was common with you a sneaker violation--change knowing we likely had leather shoes in our gym bag too. If it became persistent, it might escalate to detention or notify parents. It was innocent fun as you say or teenage 'laziness' as much as intentional defiance of a rule. I won't say we stood inspection as teens at home for how we dressed in the morning to leave for school, but most had mom or dad's eye on our appearance before we left and they knew what school expected & what was appropriate. School knew parents overall wanted to be involved/informed...I think they saw it as a team effort in the raising of their son/daughter. We overall didn't see it as unfair intervention nor curtailing our liberty/independence. Even as HS students we were still underage and parents set the rules and we were expected to abide. My parents were so open-minded with me that I don't ever think I felt repressed or stymied in growing up or developing appropriate independence. That may be a big difference in you & me growing up too. Even if you were butt busted at school, that was then behind (no pun intended) & after school, you & friends still gathered & had fun w/o a 30-60 minute delay due to detention. You might even hear a guy say "my old-man is going whup my butt when I get home & he sees the note" but that was common & expected banter and something you would deal with later, because now was still fun with friends.

Appreciate hearing your thoughts Flash. There is no 'one size fits all' method of growing up.

Posted by flash gordon on 2018-09-15 11:33:40

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the response. It was interesting that you said earlier that you were more comfortable being punished at home than at school, and it seems the reason was that what happened at home was private while punishment at school was pretty public in nature, even if the school didn't go out of their way to publicize it.

My school didn't go out of its way to publicize students who were in trouble. They didn't use the loud speaker to call students to the dean's office -- they put a note in the homeroom folder. And they didn't announce the names of the students who had to report to detention on any given day over the loud speaker, except on rare occasions. But it was still possible to walk by the room where detention was held and see who was in there, so in that sense it was public. The detention room was in the main part of the school where a lot of people passed through on their way to their lockers, other activities or out of the building after school, so it was pretty visible if you sat in certain parts of the detention room.

But for whatever reason, I didn't really mind being seen in detention. I wasn't embarrassed by it, as it seems you might have been. Maybe you took yourself more seriously than I did. That could be a feature of having been an only child, but it seems you internalized the need to follow all rules, even the more minor ones, and reproached yourself when you failed, where I still felt the need to follow the major rules but thought that it was relatively harmless to break some minor rules as long as I was willing to pay the price for it. Plus unlike you, I got a bit of a kick out of getting into minor trouble, especially in the last 2 years of high school, and that had the effect of making the punishment that inevitably came seem less onerous.

It seems that your school was more lenient on dress code than mine was. Surely you wouldn't get into trouble for an untucked shirt, but they didn't give us the opportunity to correct a deliberate and major violation of the dress code, such as wearing sneakers. Wearing sneakers if caught meant an immediate detention, even if you were carrying proper shoes with you and could have easily changed into them. My position was that once I got detention for wearing sneakers, I was going to keep them on for the rest of the day and wear them to the detention that I had to serve. There was no sense changing them at that point. If it was an honest mistake, they gave you a chance to correct it. For example, there were a couple of times I forgot my tie, and they let me borrow a tie for the day and I wasn't punished.

I had friends whose parents were notified by the school that they were getting into too much trouble, so it's not that the school didn't notify parents; it's just that the threshold at which parents would be notified was higher at my school than yours, and they didn't send a note home about every infraction. I remember that the detention slips they used to give me when I got into trouble had a line for parent's signature, but I was never required to get it signed. Maybe they told students with more serious infractions to bring their detention slip back signed.

I had one friend who got 2 days detention when we were seniors and he flat out refused to serve them. He was suspended, parents called in, etc. I didn't really understand it. To me, a couple of days of detention was no big deal, and I would much rather just suck it up and serve them than have my parents called and all that drama created.

I can't say I ever really felt repressed or stymied growing up, at least by the time I was past the mid point of high school. Once I started to drive, I had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted, and there weren't many restrictions. That period I remember as one of the most free in my life, since I had a lot of free time and my burdens were pretty light. School ended around 2:30 pm, and even if I had detention (which wasn't really that much -- maybe 10x per year or so), I was out of there long before my dad got home from work, and hours before I get home from work now. I worked a part-time job on the weekends -- Friday through Sunday with an extra day during the week sometimes, usually Thursday -- and had plenty of spending money. It was really a very nice time in my life, as I look back. I was very fortunate to live in a nice area, have nice parents and go to a nice school, and to be pretty well off economically (though not rich). I was actually a pretty good kid and didn't do anything really bad. I mostly made good choices, and the bad choices that I made were mostly pretty harmless. Would you rather a kid who got into trouble once in a while for wearing sneakers or cutting up a bit in class, or a kid who was strung out on drugs and stealing from you to get money to pay for them?

It's true that detention delayed for over an hour the start of after school fun with friends. Sometimes this didn't seem to matter, such as when friends were in detention with me. We just did our time and went out and did something fun afterwards, and after the first 10 minutes or so, the detention was all but forgotten. If I had detention and the friends I was supposed to hang out with after school didn't, I would find them and tell them that I need to stay for detention, and we usually made plans for me to join them after I got out. That was a bit more of a bother, since I knew they were having some fun while I was sitting there bored out of my gourd serving my time. But once again, once I joined up with them and the fun started, the detention was forgotten pretty quickly. For whatever reason, detention had a worse effect on me if I had to slink home alone afterwards, rather than go out with friends and do something fun. I hated that late afternoon walk by myself through the deserted school hallways after getting out of detention, and the lonely walk home afterwards. Under those circumstances, I felt the effect of the punishment that was imposed on me a lot more than when I left detention and immediately went out and did something fun.

I think I just have a high threshold for relatively petty punishment, for whatever reason. Punishment like that just doesn't make much of an impact or impression on me. I never came out of detention and said, "wow, that was terrible; I'm never going to get into trouble again." It was more like, "I'm glad that's over now; let me get back to the business of after school fun" and the fact that I had served detention didn't have a great impact on my future behavior, except that I wanted to make sure I didn't get too many of them or my parents would be called. To this day, the adult version of this petty punishment - things like traffic fines -- have no impact on me. I've been fined a bunch of times for things like speeding and I'm never really concerned about getting fined again. I know some people who are afraid of getting caught doing even minor things and don't want to take even minor penalties for stuff like that, but that is not me.

Your stance on school punishment reminds me a bit of my younger brother. He saw detention as a bother and saw no reason to get it and every reason to avoid it. He wasn't completely successful -- I actually was in detention with him once on the same day (for offenses that were unrelated). But generally, he seemed to get detention rarely and used to get annoyed during periods when I had detention frequently because it meant I couldn't give him a ride home.

Still, I suspect that if you had actually served a few detentions, and there was no parental notification, you would have seen that it wasn't that big a deal. You still might have preferred a butt pounding that was over quickly so you could go hang out and have fun, but I think you would have seen that detention was relatively painless once you got used to it and as long as you didn't have it too many consecutive days.

Posted by R.J. on 2018-09-22 16:55:44

Hi Flash,

Yes, that is true that punishment should be a more private situation. That was how my parents raised me, so it rubbed off on me to be the proper way. Friends knew that I got spanked and I knew they did, but it was an all different matter when we witnessed it happen. Weird outlook maybe, but my experience. At home too, I knew my parents well and no matter what I had done, I had their unconditional love and ultimately their forgiveness & respect. At school, it wasn't love but that respect of teachers and the administration & no guarantee how they would regard me and maybe affect my future if misbehavior was how I was perceived. I don't think I would've cared that much if I had been seen in a detention room after school by mates, so that wouldn't deter me or be embarrassing, but what faculty would be thinking of me and the self-kicking I felt of myself for earning detention would trouble me more. Maybe I was a weird kid!!

I'm sure there was minor troubles I got into. Don't all boys? I got verbal reprimands in class, maybe not as often as others did, but they happened & were as you said for a minor infraction. I wasn't the only boy in lower elementary years that got stood in the classroom corner like I did in 2nd. I was innocent, so I thought it unfair, but I was not all that embarrassed that classmates saw me in the corner, but rather I was upset that my teacher thought me a naughty boy. When mom was told by her, I felt I let her down and embarrassed her & mom didn't deserve that. When dad got home and I insisted I was innocent, he still spanked my 7 y/o bottom and again unjust, but it did help me rid my conscience of guilt and when over, the matter was a dead issue and my folks still loved me and I had paid my price in their mind. A spanking might have been unpleasant, but not too big a price that scared me significantly if I had been naughty. I knew my dad wouldn't beat the sh-t out of me in anger. That wasn't my dad!!

Ya'll, my school apparently didn't see dress code as a big deal. You got a warning or told to correct the code violation and that was it. If it required a change & a parent had to bring that change to school, you might be in trouble when you got home, or if old enough to go home & change, you might miss class time/work that affected a grade, but not significant enough to earn detention unless you were thought being a boy who intentionally challenged the rule & you would get detention or even swats, not so much for dress code violation, but intentional challenge of a rule - deliberate disobedience.

Maybe I am more like your younger brother. Why bother getting detention or trying to challenge a rule just to say I could challenge that rule and it being minor in nature, it would only get me a reprimand or even a detention. I could've served a detention I guess w/o much inconvenience or stress, other than the self-kick I would feel like giving myself for being so stupid and letting myself down - then there would be the detention note home & it was expected to be signed and returned. That not would have me feel I disappointed my parents with my behavior. That might hurt more than any lickin' my dad might give or ground me the next weekend. I wouldn't go so far as to say I looked forward to a butt pounding, but I knew I could take one and get it over the seat of my Levis w/o a serious complications and yes, then move on and the issue was over. My dad spanked, paddled & as a teen whipped my bare a$$ when I needed it, so not that big a deal if the VP put a paddle to the seat of my jeans & yes, it was over quicker...I proved I could pay that price. Just the difference in outlook between you & me Flash I guess.


Posted by flash gordon on 2018-09-30 21:44:00


You really were a serious kid, man. It sounds as if you beat yourself up over minor infractions. Was that something that religiously based? I was a bit like that when I was younger, but I outgrew it by high school. I realized that while certain things weren't allowed (like wearing sneakers at school) and would draw punishment if done, doing them didn't make me into a worse person than not doing them. So when I got punished for stuff like that, I didn't feel guilt. I had a more transactional view - this is what I did and this is what it's costing me. I never felt guilt as I sat in detention or after.

I also never thought that any of my teachers would think less of me if they saw me sitting in detention for something that was unrelated to my performance in their class. It was accepted at my school that pretty much everybody got detention from time to time, and unless a kid was there constantly, nobody really thought it was a big deal. Some teachers used to joke about it, saying stuff like "I saw you in detention yesterday; keep up the good work!" I sort of felt sorry for the dean of discipline since his big punishment that he inflicted on miscreant students was something that we all laughed at and considered a big joke.

I think you were like my immediately younger brother. He didn't derive the enjoyment from breaking the rules that I did so there were no offsetting benefits to the punishment of staying after school. I got a charge out of putting myself in a position where I might get caught and punished for something, so when I did, I just sucked it up and didn't let it bother me too much. I was apparently much less serious than you were.

It seems that you almost needed a harsh punishment to relieve you of the guilt you felt for whatever transgression you committed. It seems that the punishment gave you permission to forgive yourself. I can't say I did anything that made me feel bad enough to want that.

A different brother of mine who is a few years younger than me got a ton of detentions - more trouble than I ever got into. He used to joke about it with me. I used to catch him trudging home from school really late and ask him where he was, and he told me "I was sitting in detention. I have it every day for the next week" or something like that. He used to get long stretches in detention whereas I mostly got one or two days at a clip.

Posted by R.J. on 2018-10-07 14:52:24

Flash, I don't think I really beat myself up over minor things. It wasn't religious based that I took things seriously. Maybe being an only child contributed some. School was a serious matter and not a place just to meet and hang with friends for around 6 hours. It wasn't play time...it was work time, just as my dad went to work and was expected to do his job best and no laziness or messing around, then school was a junior version of what dad was doing. For me, maybe what my folks instilled, school was not just books and academics, but where you further learned how dress, how to speak and relate with others, how to grow and mature and most of all, to recognize there will be an authority figure and rules always in life and you learn how to respect and comply with that authority element. As an only child, I was exposed maybe more to the adult life earlier than some peers, so I enjoyed and had good peer relationships, but peers couldn't do for me as much as adults could and so a positive relationship with adults was more important to me than what peers perceived. I got punished like any other boy and that was OK because I knew it was the consequence for something wrong I had done. Whether minor infraction or major infraction, it was my intent or attitude to what I had done than the infraction itself that deserved punishment.

I don't think detention should be a joke. I couldn't respect a teacher's attitude that passed it off as something funny that a boy was serving detention. It had to be a bit obvious to the dean or other faculty if detention was being taken lightly by the student body and unless they perceived school and their job as merely 'babysitting' kids for a few hours, it doesn't come across as what I perceive school to be. Academics is only one part of education. Especially in HS, it is the job of school to work with parents & reinforce lessons parents should be teaching at home, as the primary teachers, to prepare you to become adults. Even "A's" on a report card or honor roll is nice, but if you don't come out of HS with good manners, respect for elders and that always there authority figure over you in life; with good hygiene and dress appearance; know how to comply even if you don't agree with a rule; know how to work in a system to change rules but until they change, you comply...then I think school is missing the job.

I was overall well behaved, but had many opportunities to be caught at something by sheer accident. Like any boy, I had my attitude at times and as I moved into that adolescent period, my mouth overloaded some days. I didn't need to find ways to intentionally violate parents' or school's rules. They just happened. I wasn't afraid of dad or principal or being punished, but heck, I didn't want to get punished. I did man up as best possible when I did get 'a talk' or my butt busted - I survived too. Yes, I had to forgive myself as much as I wanted others to forgive me. My dad always had a way to reassure me after a butt tanning that it was over Rick and you are loved and forgiven and when ready to come out of your room, come join family and know the slate is now wiped clean.

Just me and my thoughts Flash. Guess differences are the 'spice of life' and so I don't fret or become too critical of others and their thinking. Always had enough to just watch my own steps and take care and raise up my own life.