Thursday, April 17, 2014

O: Obsequious (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)

You might think that Eddie Haskell is a remnant of the 50s, long gone. But I assure he is alive and well and walking middle school hallways today. His obsequious tone is heard every day, every time a young man finds himself in trouble with his teachers, who are mostly women old enough to be his mother.

Mostly, these boys are using the tone ironically. It's not that they really think the insincere praise will be believed. Instead, they hope that it will make the angry woman laugh, that she will charmed by them and her ire will be defused.

I  don't know how I feel about it, being the teacher on the receiving end.

On the one hand, I understand the value of humor in diffusing a tense situation.  But it rankles a little. There's something patronizing in it, something that says my anger is not to be taken seriously. I don't anger easily. I'm not quick to raise my voice. But, when I do, I'm serious about it. I mean it. I don't like the gender relations implied here.

Then I waffle, thinking of it from the kid's point of view. A middle school age boy draws a lot of ire in this world. He is loud, giggly, wiggly, distractible. He may look like a man, but he is still a child.

If you look at classroom interactions for children of this age, the boys get in more trouble than the girls. They don't play the game as well as the girls yet. If I heard my name said in annoyance and anger as often as I know some of these boys do, I would be looking for a way to diffuse the situation, too.

So, as in so many things, I try to take it slowly. To guide young men through respectful, appropriate interactions with the women in their lives, one conversation at a time. It's a big job. I hope I can handle it with the grace and humor that Mrs. Cleaver did.
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.


  1. Great word and perfect example. I'm not sure I would handle that gracefully. I have a strong desire for people to know that I've called their bs. I want a text sign on the roof of my car so I can call out idiots. I'd probably be shot in no time!
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

    1. That's the problem, isn't it? Of course, when you do just directly call someone out, they often shut down. Then there's no chance of dialogue or learning. Like trying to talk to a troll.