Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cops Are On Their Way!

During a visit to Central Park this week with my class I became suddenly jolted out of my playtime reverie by the loud shouting of a teacher from another school marching towards two elementary school children angrily informing them that "the cops are on their way!"

"Good Lord", thought I, "I wonder what happened?".  

Turns out it was a scare tactic, used for dramatic effect I am certain, to stress the utter disregard of these two boys in staying within the specified boundaries of the playground. They had wandered off onto the rocks which were clearly off limits!

I didn't follow up to see how long these boys waited before they realized this was an empty threat or if they even believed it in the first place.  But, this encounter did make me wonder about all the hyped up stories adults tell to little ones.

"If you cross your eyes they will get stuck that way."

"If you eat the watermelon seeds one will grow in your stomach."

"If you get out of bed the boogie man will snatch you away."

I'm sure we all have heard some variation of these.  At what point do we realize it is all formulated BS to keep us in line? How do these 'frights' stay with us as adults? What keeps us in line nowadays?

13 comments:

patti said...

I can understand why we say what we say to kids sometimes. They can get you to a point where you don't know what else to do,but try a scary threat. Is it right? I don't know, I DO know that it does work on my children at times.

Sydney said...

It is sad but true ~ fear works...conditioning.

Mike said...

That's so funny. My students and I just had a discussion about this topic this morning.

Barbara said...

Threats like this don't work with my kids any longer. Does that mean they are grown up?

I think we as adults respond to threats that might determine how we survive in a failing economy.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

excellent closing question, I think I survey some kids!

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Those types of threats never worked with me. When I was in first grade, I had substitute teacher who claimed that if you chewed and swallowed your fingernails, they would fester and make your appendix explode. She said that she knew of several cases of this, and I asked her for scientific proof of this theory. She made me sit in a corner and practice penmanship on my own. Fortunately our regular teacher came back the next day.

Gary said...

Hi Patti! - Haven't heard from you in a while. I'll be on Long Island this weekend so let's get together. Anyhoo, I totally understand the frustration of wanting to say these sorts of things but from my vantage point I see how short lived they are. I always find that my students react better when I talk to them honestly then when I say things like "We'll have to discuss this with your mom when she comes to pick you up". I actually used this threat and then felt like a bad guy afterwards.

Barbara - Parents of grown-up still use the threats but I think it turns more into guilt as we get older.

Kimy - Excellent. Let me know what you discover.

Gregg - I can just imagine you wanting scientific proof. You probably got her all flustered. I love it. BTW - we are really delving into "EXACTLY" lately and the kids are eating those stories up. We even created one of our own today which was inspired by the book. Thanks again.

The Silver Fox said...

By the time I was about six or seven, I too had been told the "If you eat the watermelon seeds one will grow in your stomach" lie.

Sometime at about that age, I saw a pregnant woman, my "first." She didn't look "fat" to me; only her stomach was outsized.

I walked right up to her, pointed directly at her belly, and loudly exclaimed "I know what you've been doing!"

Gary said...

That. Is. A. Riot!

WAT said...

Are kids scared of anything nowadays?! I mean, REALLY! "The Exorcist" used to be such a frightening film, and now I think it's become kind of campy for most people and the new generation. Who knows really, but I don't think fear should be used, only realistic consequences.

I'm not a parent nor an educator though so what do I know? My time with kids is very very limited, and to be honest, I kinda like it that way.

Sebastien said...

Funny thing about the watermelon seed. It actually does grow in your stomach. I am currently producing a 60 watermelons a year. I don't get why that's such a bad thing.

Sam said...

Hi Gary,

Your blog is such a breath of fresh air to me. I've really enjoyed checking it out this morning with my coffee, and i'll be back.

Boy of suburbia that i was in my formative years, the hoax performed on me by my parents centered on the car. Everytime we'd get in, I'd say "where are we going?" to which my dad ALWAYS replied "We're going crazy!" without any explanation.

He has no idea that i actually believed him.

Only now, when he is 80 years old, do i actually think maybe he is not actually crazy.

AquaSass said...

Till VERY recently I thought what my mom said was scripture. She knew it ALL. So when she told me a boyfriend was bad it would haunt me till I broke up. She told me to buy a house (which turned out to be a horrible idea) so I did. She told me to get up and enjoy the day, I thought that MUST be the best thing for me. Somewhere in the last couple of months I realized she's just a human being. And she's just talking. Not everything she says had much thought behind it--and it is often a HUGE impact on my life. She's NOT always right. Im 26. it took me a long time to think of her as just a 60 year old grown woman, learning just like me.

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