My kids have started school – and are giving me a lesson in class politics

Nov 9, 2018 by

Emma Brockes –

While the children usually resolve their disputes by the end of the day, we parents look at one another with murder in our eyes.

Two and a half months ago, when my kids started school, I imagined the biggest challenge would be socialisation. At nursery they’d had “friends” in the way it might be imagined slow-moving animals in a field have friends – which is to say animals doing the same thing as them but several feet over there. At school, by contrast, they have to choose whom to sit with. And so the rigmarole of popularity begins. What I hadn’t realised was how much this process was going to involve me.

The socialisation – or rather resocialisation of parents who experienced classroom politics approximately 300 years ago, and have to rapidly dust off the machinery – has been shocking. I am 42, and, like everyone else of that age, screen my calls, ignore my voicemail, use my children to get out of doing things I don’t want to do, and am extremely agile at avoiding those I dislike. Well, those days are over. In the interests of protecting my children’s social life, all of a sudden I have to play nice.

And, my God, what a strain. Intellectually, I know that if a kid tells my kid she doesn’t want to play with her and, what’s more, Avery doesn’t want to play with her either, the correct response is not to pace the corridor outside the classroom muttering, “I’m going to rip her tossing head off.”

The correct response is to have a quiet word with the teacher, who will then lead a class lecture on not being a jerk. Fine. The greater challenge is what to do when one’s own child is the aggressor. Suddenly the argument for less is more becomes strangely appealing.

Like everything else at the moment, some of this agitation taps into broader culture-war stuff, specifically the presumed generational shortfalls detailed in The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff’s book of last summer, in which he argues that young people have become so accustomed to turning to adults to sort out their problems that they are growing up with impaired executive function.

Source: My kids have started school – and are giving me a lesson in class politics | Emma Brockes | Opinion | The Guardian

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