R-E-S-P-E-C-T Pt. II

“You were a little hot in there,” I commented after class. “Are you all right?”

Notta waved me off. “I’m fine.”

“ Dr. Taffy Pull isn’t making you crazy?”

She snorted. “Him! I go in because I hefted one too many bags of mulch and my shoulder feels like something’s torn for almost two weeks. First thing he does is jab his finger into the sore spot and ask me, ‘Does this hurt?’ Took a lot for me not to punch him in the jaw and ask him, ‘Does that hurt?’”

“So are you still in pain?”

“I told you. I’m fine.”

I waited for her to sit down in my office. “Then what was all that with our class Problem Child?”

Notta threw up her hands. “These kids! These, whaddyacall’em, Millennials! They act like we should kiss their feet for existing. Give them everything they want, all the answers and G-d forbid you change the questions. I’ve never seen anything like it!”

“I have,” I said. “I taught part-time at a high school in another state and one of my classes was English 10E. The ‘E,’ I was told, stood for Enriched. Turned out, from the students’ point of view, it stood for ‘Entitled.’ It was a long semester. “

“This is what I’m saying! It’s all about what they are owed, not what they owe. Like at 18 they should still get a reward for pissing in a toilet and not their pants.”

“Yeah, but that’s not all of them at this age. Didn’t you hear the rest of the class’s disapproval?”Notta shrugged. “And Shrap and Lydia, would you lump them into that overview of a whole generation?”

She sighed. “Okay, maybe not. I see your point. BUT – “I sat back in my chair, sort of bracing myself. “There HAS to be a basis, a foundation for respect in this world. For treating each other like human beings.”

“Or as we would like to be treated.”

“Exactly! Some basic rules everybody should learn as a child and remember as always applying to them when they grow up.”

“I think some people would say you’re talking about the Ten Commandments.”

Notta waved that off, too. “These kids don’t read, let alone pick up a Bible. Besides, do you know how many people claim to be Christian and still get into fist-fights over whether the 5th commandment says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ or ‘Thou shalt not murder’? Not the same thing, you know.

“No, it’s not, and that’s the 6th commandment in my Bible.”

“See? Not that I expect you to start swinging at me over that.” She shook her head. “We’re supposed to be preparing these kids for life with other people, for building something to pass on to children and grandchildren. But these kids – okay, like our Problem Child – if it don’t come easy and tickle their personal fancies, they want nothing to do with it. Learning has to make them as happy as a chocolate sundae. That’s not the real world. Never was, never will be. They have to learn that. Maybe not the hard way that Shrap and Lydia have had to learn it. Then again, maybe these entitled kids should have to have it hard in some way.”

“Two by four upside the head?” I asked with a smile.

“Or across their behinds,” Notta said with an answering smile. “I don’t know. There has to be some basic thoughts put in their language and about respect in this world we live in for kids like the Problem Child to digest – even if we have to force feed.”

“Maybe you should write those down,” I said. “But keep it to ten. Most people can’t get past more than ten.”

Notta’s smile widened. “Maybe I will.”

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