Stepping into the world of Social Work
Well, maybe a little more than 20 years ago, but two things have me reminiscing this week.
First, an often neglected anniversary for any married couple, today is the 27th anniversary of the day my husband and I met. I imagine not every couple is exactly sure exactly what day they met, perhaps they were acquainted informally in school or something like that, so the date doesn’t get noted.
In my case, it did. During my junior year, a friend, believing in his psychic ability, predicted that I’d meet someone around that day. Sure enough, while chatting with my English (Science Fiction) professor before class, a shy man joined in the discussion. I learned later that this was very contrary to his normal extremely introverted behavior. We ended up having coffee together shortly thereafter, and never looked back. We moved in together after graduation, married in ’89, and I believe we have truly embodied the “for better, for worse…” We’ve had our share of practical ups and downs, but we’ve always come through together.
On another front, I’m thinking back even further, 1973-75, to be exact. I noticed a former classmate from elementary school had posted a suggestion about Teacher Appreciation Week on Facebook. I knew she had kept in touch with a few of our teachers, so I asked her if she was still in touch with our 5th grade teacher, who had been very special to me. She hadn’t heard from her in some time, but offered to give me the address of our mutual 6th grade teacher. My asking also apparently motivated her to phone this teacher as well. During that call, she learned that the 5th grade teacher had passed on (not all that surprising). She quite happily informed me that our 6th grade teacher clearly remembered me, including an incident that had stuck in my own mind.
It was a little harder to convince myself to write this teacher; while she was a very nice lady and a good teacher, she didn’t “get” me, and as a result made a few errors in relating to me. The one truly upsetting incident I recall (and she might even agree that it was a mistake) is her turning my desk over outside the classroom to force me to neaten it up. But she did try, and she deserved my appreciation for that, so I did write her a nice letter about my current life, and making a positive comment or two about her influence on my love of reading. It will be interesting to read her reply, if any.
Interestingly, my classmate reported that the teacher remembered a time where she brought all the girls together for a meeting. The teacher seemed to remember that I was being bullied and there was something about a boy. I do remember having a crush on a boy who another girl also liked, but I don’t remember it becoming a bullying issue. My own memory of the situation has more to do with handball at recess, and another girl (with a name close to mine) being the victim. Amazing what we remember, isn’t it?
This, plus the chat with the former classmate, got me thinking about what I must have been like as an 11 year old. I remember that was a pretty tough year for me and my family. My sister’s epilepsy developed that summer, and I:began being treated for a genetic medical condition I was born with. While I had known of the condition at an age appropriate level all along, going to Children’s Hospital of LA and being examined under a microscope every 3 months isn’t easy on a kid.
I was also a quirky kid. I have my dad’s intelligence and my mom’s stubborn nature, so certain approaches fail with me, no matter whether I am 8 or 48. I respond very badly to black and white scenarios, and being forced to “lose face,” for example. While I don’t know exactly how bad my hearing at the time was, I have always had some level of hearing impairment, which can affect my response to social situations and instructions, causing people to get wrong impressions of me. I can imagine I was frustrating to teach!
I’ll post updates later if the teacher writes me back.
I came across this, as well as having heard about it on the radio:
This pastor actively promotes physical punishment against children who do not follow narrow gender roles. This brings up some issues I’ve been meaning to talk about from my point of view for quite some time; a clear misunderstanding by the Right of the relationships between adherence to gender-typical behavior, morality, and homosexuality.
This first came home to me when I was working with autistic children and was participating in Floor Time message boards for parents and practitioners. Floor time is a style of play therapy which stresses starting where the child is, what the child wants to do, with the adult gradually integrating gentle instruction in social skills. The critical aspect of doing what the child wants cannot be stressed more.
In one discussion I: remember, one parent mentioned having purchased a kitchen play set for her autistic son. Another parent (evidently a devout Christian) laid into her because it was “immoral” to teach a boy to play in a kitchen! Apparently such play, in her opinion, would lead to homosexuality.
From an objective standpoint, a kitchen play set is a fantastic role playing opportunity. Every member of the family ends up in the kitchen at several points each day, even if they are not responsible for preparing meals or cleaning up after them. In almost every household I have been a member of or visited, social activity centers around the kitchen for both genders and all ages. There are countless ways to allow the child to play and lead the activity, as well as for the adult to use the play for instruction.
Further, it is not morally inappropriate for a child of either gender to be taught basic kitchen skills. Individuals of both genders need to be able to make basic meals for themselves and engage in kitchen clean-up. The reasons for needing this might be too many to mention, but would include living alone as a young adult before getting married, occasional meals when a spouse is unable to cook (perhaps she is in the hospital having a baby?) or maybe being a true partner in the household and helping with a meal or just doing the dishes. My own dad, while maintaining his gender typical role as a bread winning heterosexual father, would happily cook dinner if needed. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where men are instructed to stay completely out of the kitchen.
It is also true that many heterosexual men are cooks or chefs by profession. They would not have developed these skills had they not been permitted to cook in their home kitchen. None of these men, whether working in fast food or at a 5 star restaurant, would consider what they do immoral.
This stresses the point that gender-atypical behavior is not necessarily immoral or leading to homosexuality. I am one of countless girls and women who feel more comfortable in slacks than dresses. I enjoyed playing with dolls but also catching lizards and toads. I’m not a feminine woman, but I’m definitely straight. Forcing me into frilly dresses or makeup would have done absolutely no good. I know of many straight men and women who were the same way – this was particularly true of those of us who fell in the higher range of intelligence.
It is this confusion on the part of the Right which causes the problems of bullying, particularly among young children. Taking this pastor’s advice to heart, these parents’ children will take the same attitude to school and beat up on their classmates because they have a lisp, or chose to play the flute, or aren’t good at sports. This isn’t witnessing for Jesus over some legitimately immoral act, this is bullying those who are different.