This is going to be full of gender stereotypes, and I’m going to start off by just saying I’m sorry I’m not sorry. I need to get this out.
We have a couple of “cool” boys who talk, dress, and act like they want to be tough. They would pull it off, too, except that they turn into the world’s biggest babies whenever things don’t go their way. They shut down, they cry, they sulk in corners, they refuse to follow directions, they act out horribly, and they can stay like that for hours. These tantrums can be sparked by the smallest things, but the boys turn them into enormous productions that can ruin classes and can drive me absolutely nuts.
I understand they’re only sixth graders. I understand that their hormones are going crazy. I understand that they might have things in their lives that cause them to lash out or beg for attention. I know all that and have spent all year trying to take it into account. But really, this is different, and it’s way outside how my other immature kids still act like babies. It is intentionally disruptive, beyond annoying, and exhausting…for everyone.
Those tantrums are what makes me ache for male role models in my kids lives. On behavior alone, I bet I could tell you with 90% accuracy which of my boys have active male figures in their households, and these boys aren’t in that group. They need a real Man around, who can model how they’re supposed to act and get them in line when they don’t act appropriately. They need someone to show them how to be gentlemen and how to be scholarly, but who can also yell at them to man up when they start rolling on the floor crying over a detention.
It depresses me when I learn that a group of them have developed what they call “Guy Code”, which is their list of rules for how to act (and obviously involves a secret handshake). It’s sad because I know they completely invented the entire Code by themselves, and even sadder because I’m the one they turned to for feedback on it. For all that I do get along well with boys, I keep them in line decently, and I can tie a tie or throw a football with the best of them, I am not a man. I’ve given a million impromptu lessons on how to behave like a gentleman, but they come from the “I am a woman you respect and this is how I expect to be treated” perspective. They need the “I’m a man you want to be and this is the way we act” perspective, and there is no way I can ever, ever, ever fill that role for these boys.
Sure, we have male teachers at our school, but most of them (with one or two notable exceptions) can barely assign detention. We’re light-years away from inspiring that awed/fearful deep respect that these boys need to have for someone. Just having males around is not enough. Some of these kids are in desperate need of more than that.
Where are those men, and how to I get them to come help raise my boys?