pecking order

the pecking order

the pecking order

I chose this bird photo (above) I took this morning because it embodies the phrase “pecking order” to me for some reason.  And the way my mind works, “pecking order” relates to something my friends and I have been talking about in relation to our kids in school.

The pecking order I am referring to doesn’t have to do with kids, but in fact the adults in the equation, the parents.

As someone relatively new to the parenting game of life I really had no awareness for years of parents groups like PTAs, parents’ associations, booster clubs, school Facebook pages, message boards, and so on and so forth.  But now I am acutely aware of them and have been observing them here and there like a  sociology experiment.

When I wasn’t a parent I was told by some that I shouldn’t have an opinion when it comes to things about schools, general parent-based groups, school boards, and so on.  Now that I am a parent (or parent-in-training) I am sometimes told I shouldn’t ask so many questions or have an opinion because I am so new at the game. I could get angry at this, but mostly I am just amused.  But I do know people who move through their childrens’ schools as mute foot soldiers to avoid dealing with these issues. Personally I am wondering how we can learn if we aren’t supposed to ask questions at times.

However, what truly amazes me and those I talk with about this is how groups which can do so much GOOD for a school and for kids can also twist into something almost unpleasant at times where the adults are concerned –  it’s all the things you think we as adults left behind in high school but it’s almost like the behavior patterns are reincarnated at times.  It’s like the lunch room and school yard cliques that once reigned supreme are resurrected.

For me, as someone new to this fray, I find even observing this behavior as distasteful as I did when I was a tween and teen.  It also can be like observing where bullying comes from.  How can we teach children not to be bullies when some adults have still not learned that lesson?

As an adult you are supposed to be able to embrace the spirit of individuality, yet even as adults when we become part of a group, individuality to an extent is quashed.

I want my child to be able to appreciate the differences in others because I simply believe to expand your horizons and grow you need to learn to appreciate the differences in others.  Mind you I am not talking about destructive or dangerous behavior, just embracing a world where everyone is not just a cookie cutter of the person standing next to them. I figure we have enough of that going on already with the cookie cutter developments taking root throughout every community with a spare inch available. Or, just because the houses all look the same it doesn’t mean we have moved to Stepford.

As an adult, I will question something if I don’t understand it or if I think something is wrong. Yet with a lot of these groups we absolutely can’t discuss and question things like adults, but conversely we morph once again into school kids in the lunchroom glomming up into cliques.

No one leads such a perfect life that they should be able to judge another person via snap judgment.  Yet it is human nature that we all have been guilty of that.

DSC_1822But unfortunately this is how kids learn about all sorts of things including how newness and individuality is perceived, and  where bullying comes from.

People are different, and what I have learned in this new aspect of the adult world is that there are a lot of people out there that even as adults expect you to be just like them and don’t know how to deal with individuality.

And I hate to say it, but sometimes I see it more pronounced in school related groups like PTAs and committees for fundraisers and sports boosters and arts boosters and so on. And (again) it’s all the nonsense you think we as adults left behind in high school but it’s almost like the behavior patterns are reincarnated.  The irony is all these people are coming together with the same common goal: the betterment of the lives of kids in school. But since life is cyclical, behavioral patterns can be too I suppose.

There is a definite pecking order, and deviating from the comfort level of some causes drama. One of my friends told me the story of carnival at the school of one of her children. She tells me how she goes all ready in blue jeans and sneakers and a comfy sweater all prepared to help.  She is greeted by a mom Nazi complete with walkie-talkie and a clip board. From what I was told apparently most army generals had nothing on her.

The irony and utter humor was of course I remember that woman from when she was a teen.  She was the girl who always had high drama at every party with her boyfriends.  I can still see her running around either barefoot at a party in tears or being booted from some dark corner in a state of questionable undress.  And there she is today, queen of the PTA with a walkie-talkie and a clipboard.

Some people for whatever reason seem to have a narrow view of life or are utterly rules based. But where are the allowances for grey areas?

I believe  interaction and discussion is the pathway to building stronger relationships and so on.

But what I am discovering is that a lot of those parents in these groups are not only judgmental, they are kind of mean at times. The world is enough of a cruel place so why can’t we just be nicer to each other?

I have friends with children who have special needs.  These are my friends with literally the patience of Job. These are the people whom others always feel the need to tell how to parent and raise their kids.

I know someone else who told me of a Girl Scout or maybe it was a Brownie troop leader.  A little girl wanted desperately to belong to this one particular troop because all her friends were in it.  But this troop leader found the girl’s mother NOCD (“not our class darling”).  Here was this person, an adult, who couldn’t look past the mean girl of it all.  But that is the thing about mean girls that I have discovered: they never quite grow up they just get older.

To a lot of you, this is nothing new.  You have been seeing and dealing with things like this for years.  But again, to me, it is all somewhat a brave new world. Maybe I look at things at times in an over-hopeful or over-simplified manner.  Maybe I ask too many questions or speak out where others are silent.  But how are we to learn if we sanitize everything and can’t discuss much of anything?

But while education in a sense has increased with the ability to choose more or better for our children regardless of public, private, parochial, or charter schools, the one thing that hasn’t changed in a lot of cases are the age-old issues with parents. There are always going to be adults that think they know more than their peer group. It’s just human nature. I accept  that.

And in the midst of it all, I often see these brilliant kernels of hope.  Often the children are kinder than the parents.

Just as we can teach our children, we can learn from them as well.  The world is often not a pretty place, but it is not one without hope and brilliance.

All we are, we are

All we are, we are

And every day is the start of something beautiful

~ Matt Nathanson, lyrics “All we are”