Things that could never happen today…

My six year old son is obsessed with tape. Scotch tape, masking tape, packing tape. It doesn’t matter. Tonight he is playing with a role of masking tape because I told him he could not stick yet another band aid on his stuffed shark. “He has a bloody nose” Cooper protested. I was not sympathetic.

So he found this roll of tape, and I decided it was a relatively inexpensive way to keep him entertained. He was goofing around with it and came into the dining room with a big swatch of tape over his mouth and that triggered a memory. I had a teacher in elementary school, maybe 8th grade, who would put tape over the mouth of any kid who insisted on talking out of turn. I had completely forgotten about this until Coop came in that way.

I don’t think I thought it was wrong or over the line at the time, although I am pretty sure I never ended up with tape on my mouth. I lived in mortal fear of being on the wrong side of the law. You had rules that needed to be obeyed? I was your gal. But not if rules seemed unreasonable, unfair, or unjust. Then there would be a very thoughtful and well reasoned protest. Like the time our 5th grade teacher would keep the whole class in for recess if anyone in class used the word ain’t. His reasoning was that peer pressure would help change the wayward, vocabularily challenged youth. Specifically we are talking about Alan Parent. He brought pig’s feet in for show and tell. He wasn’t going to stop saying ain’t just because I told him to. I made my case to our teacher that it was unfair to deny those of us who managed to use the correct contraction of is and not our recess. I further pointed out that all it did was make Alan laugh that he was keeping us all inside. Peer pressure was not useful with a boy such as Alan. It would be a worse punishment if he was the ONLY one to lose recess privileges. I won my case. And Alan dialed back using ain’t.

But I don’t recall feeling strongly one way or the other about the tape on the mouth. But 40 years later, as I look at this through the eyes of a parent, I wonder how I would feel if I found out a teacher was practicing this tactic in my son’s class, or ON my son. Not that anyone could actually get away with this today. That would be cause for firing and a possible law suit all wrapped up in a ball of tape.

In the meantime I might have to invest in more masking tape. It has been keeping Cooper totally entertained for the better part of an hour. In fact, right now, he is taping himself to his chair. The dogs however, are keeping their distance.



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2 responses to “Things that could never happen today…

  1. You weave such gorgeous and juicy tales. Thanks.

  2. I love that tape is keeping him occupied.

    When I was a freshman in high school my biology teacher would nail anyone who fell asleep in class, from across the room, with a chalkboard eraser. Nothing like watching someone rudely awakened AND enveloped in a cloud of chalk dust. I’m sure he’d be fired for doing that today. But at the time, I don’t recall a single person complaining.

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