So Tarzan and Cinderella are having their after-school snack the other day (we have almost an hour before Scooby gets home from school - it's ridiculously quiet) and Tarzan says, out of the blue, "Your teacher is mean."
Cinderella - "Well, a little."
Me - "Why is she mean?"
Tarzan - "She said, 'You better not do that, or else -' and I didn't hear what else she said."
Me - "Do what?"
Cinderella - "Hug him."
Me - "Wait a minute. She told you not to hug each other?"
Tarzan - "Yeah."
Me - "Did she know you were brother and sister?"
Cinderella - "Yes, she knew."
Me - "What exactly did she say?"
Cinderella - "I don't remember."
Tarzan - "She said, 'You better not do that, or else -' something."
Me - "Huh."
Later: I write an email..."Ms. ______, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you at the Open House, I was at the middle school with my older son. Perhaps there's a morning I could come in and help out for an hour or so before school sometime. I was concerned to hear about an incident the other day. E. said she got in trouble for hugging her brother in the hallway. T. was kind of upset about it. He's a pretty sensitive kid and was worried that he'd gotten her in trouble. He's also been missing his big brother since he went to middle school, and was probably happy to see E. I'm confused as to why they were not allowed to hug each other hello? Please advise me on this when you get a chance."
The next morning, I get an email in return. (I'm paraphrasing) "E. did not get in trouble for hugging her brother. She lifted him up off the floor and I asked her not to do that in case she dropped him or another child in line ran in to her if they weren't looking. I told her my preference would be a silent wave. I'm sorry if this caused (crap, I can't remember the word she used...friction, maybe?EDIT: It was "ill feelings.") I don't need any help in the mornings at this time. Thank you for letting me know."
I posted something on Facebook and got a huge response of outrage and indignation over the kids not being allowed to hug.
Now, part of me understands somewhat. Cinderella can give rather...exuberant...hugs. I can see how that might be disruptive in the middle of a crowded hallway. On the other hand, why shouldn't siblings who actually care about each other and are happy to see each other be allowed to express that? Isn't it better than the alternative? I don't really want to make a big deal out of it, and I probably won't say anything else to the teacher about it. But I have to say, this has raised some warning flags with me. I don't want a repeat of last year, where I waited too long to intervene it what was not a great classroom situation for Cinderella. I was hoping she'd have a better year. And she seems pretty happy with her classroom and her teacher. I'm just...frustrated that this is even an issue.
People commented on FB that this is why our schools are so bad, this is why I homeschool my kids, etc. Well, homeschooling is not an option. Even if I weren't in school and working, I don't have the temperment to homeschool, and besides, they're smarter than me. I have to work within this imperfect system. And I'm trying to make it a positive lesson for them. I said, "Those are the rules in school. You're not allowed to hug each other. I think it's a dumb rule. But, it's the rule, and you need to follow it. However, please give each other extra hugs right before school and right afterwards to make up for it."
Sometimes there are rules we don't agree with. Even for grownups. And sometimes it's good to have to discipline yourself to follow a rule that you don't agree with.
But really, it's a dumb rule. Talk about legislating affection! There's a difference between high schoolers making out in the halls, and a second and third grade sibling giving each other a hug. Somewhere in the tangled system of burocracy, human reason should play a part and make some distinctions.
When you see your loved ones today, give them a hug.
Rules be damned.