Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The G.S. Syndrome

I’m deep into my post-retirement back-to-school -teaching, having just finished my 7th(school) day straight and four more to go. (With requests for four more at a different place after that!) Mostly, it’s a pleasure— especially the kindergarten kids! 


Yet I had two rather strange experiences in the last two days that feels different than anything I can remember in 45 years of teaching some 6 classes a day. 


The kids eat lunch outside and at a given time, can transition to free play. But first they have to show they’ve eaten at least half their lunch. A 2ndgrader showed me his full lunchbox and claimed the couple of baby carrots he ate was sufficient. His sandwich was untouched, so I sent him back with instructions to eat half his sandwich. He came back five minutes later and showed me this:


And claimed with all sincerity that this qualified for eating a half a sandwich. Really?


Then the other day, a first-grade boy came in shouting while he was dancing and I gently reminded him not to use his voice while moving. One minute later, he shouted again, yet louder. When I reminded him that I had just asked him not to use his voice, he shouted, “That wasn’t me!!! I didn’t say anything!!!” 


“Well, that’s interesting, because I was standing right next to you and I saw your mouth open and heard that sound come out of it.”


“No, that wasn’t me!! I didn’t do that!!” And fell on the ground in a tantrum.


Well, it’s possible that he was telling some deep truth about how a djinn or demon or devil entered his body and caused that to happen and it wasn’t really him. But with nine other kids ready to actually get on with the class, this wasn’t the time to discuss it. So I escorted him to the office and returned to teach the class. He did come back in about ten minutes later and kind of managed to get through the class. 


Now of course, I’ve had plenty of kids insist that they didn’t break that mallet or pinch that kid or say that mean thing and because I wasn’t right in front of them when they did them, they could lie their way through the accusation to avoid accountability. Why, I believe I did some of that myself as a kid!


But to show me an uneaten sandwich and claim he ate half, to shout while I was right next to him and insist it wasn’t him— well, I find that disturbing. In seems like we’re raising the next generation of George Santos’ or Donald Trump’s in training. In the old days (20 years ago?), one could only conjecture whether a crime was committed and then demand proof based on reliable witnesses or rarely, a photograph. Now with instant cell-phone documentation, here are hundreds/ thousands of lies being told and crimes being committed in plain view and somehow, these people are still running free or serving in the highest offices in the land. The spinning what so clearly happened has gotten so out of hand that we’re all dizzy from it. I still find it extraordinary that the ex-Pres Liar-in-Chief told some twenty to thirty thousand (!!!!!) lies that were dutifully fact-checked and shown to be false— and yet nobody cared. I repeat. Twenty to thirty THOUSAND!!!!!! Again, overwhelm the people so that their vision is blurred from the dizzying onslaught and you can get away with it.


People, this is not good. But when the kids start catching on and some part of them thinks, “Hey, what a deal! We can do anything we want without any accountability! Just insist it didn’t happen and that the evidence before the adult’s eyes is “fake news”! Sweet!!" This is not good.


And so children, who have been my hope amidst this madness, have started to drink the Kool Aid. Be afraid, my friends. Be very afraid. 


PS And teachers, we’ll just have to work harder. Train yourself to notice the George Santos Syndrome and dig out that evil before it takes root.


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