Issues With Authority

My EggI have issues with authority. It started in kindergarten in Mrs. Boblitt’s class in 1979. My mom had made me the neatest crocheted plastic egg slip cover (see photo). I was so enamored with it that I took it to class to show my friends how cool I was to possess such a wonderful toy. I was quite proud of it and I absolutely refused to let go of it for anything. Inside the slipcover was a plastic egg in my favorite color, green, and if I am not mistaken there were jelly beans inside the plastic egg.

As the class started, my teacher politely asked me to put my prized possession in my cubby hole. The horror, I know. But, being the sneaky INTJ Mastermind that I am, I nonchalantly walked over to my cubby, bent down next to it and then casually slipped the toy into my shirt sleeve. It was a brilliant move, I know. Hold the applause.

So with my egg tucked securely in my sleeve, I headed back to my seat for another round of coloring “The Letter People.” Now I love art, so coloring was a pretty intense activity for me. I was so into coloring “Mr. P’s” patches when suddenly the egg slipped out of my sleeve and bounced across the table, disrupting the entire class. Mrs. Bobblitt looked up from her desk with a frown and sternly asked me to put the toy back in my cubby hole. She was one of those scary teachers that you shouldn’t really push too far, so I got up and walked over to my cubby again. This time, I stuffed the egg up my other sleeve. I was a pretty smart kindergartner.

I don’t really remember how I got busted the second time around. It was probably so traumatic that I have blocked it from my memory forever. The only other recollection I have of that day is that I ended up in the principal’s office over it. I didn’t get spanked or anything (at least not there – I’m sure my parents took care of that at home) and in retrospect I actually thought it was something special to get to make that little trip down the hall. Although being dragged by the ear wasn’t so fun. Yes, kindergarten was kind of harsh in 1979.

My Kindergarten PhotoSo began my journey of defying authority. In my school career alone, I saw the inside of the principal’s office more times than I can count, spent many long afternoons in detention and I even got kicked out of detention once because I annoyed the sub who was filling in at the time by flicking rubber bands at an empty soda can. In high school I frequently got in trouble for having other books propped up inside of my text books and refusing to be “part of the group” when the subject didn’t interest me. In college, I got kicked out my dorms for setting off firecrackers and breaking and entering into my RA’s room. I also got kicked out of a college class for disagreeing with the professor. Rules? I never read them.

I have this subliminal goal to start a girl revolution that will rock this world. I’m still planning it. I am pretty sure I eat, sleep and breathe it. Why do I defy authority? Am I some thrill-seeking rebel? Should you fear me? Will I get YOU in trouble? Am I a bad influence? I think not.

I don’t defy authority because I am bored and looking for something to do. I am not some troubled kid who needs discipline and good role models. I defy authority because I question everything. I am not the type of person to take someone at their word. I need proof. If you can’t prove it to me then I must prove it to myself. I analyze everything around me and I am driven to know how things work.

I am also not one to just blindly follow leadership. My personality is a leader by nature, but I like to lead from the background. My introverted side prevents me from being center stage, but I will not hesitate to take over a situation or “defy authority” if I disagree with the leadership. Leadership has to earn my trust. I can be extremely loyal, but I have standards. And I do not hold anyone to standards that I myself do not already maintain.

Before you label me as a bad influence and run away to the safer side of society, let me explain my position. I view everything as a challenge. While my kindergarten experience really had no purpose other than my own selfish desire to hang on to my toy, my future run-ins with school teachers and college professors only fueled my desire to know and understand things. I learned to never take things at face value, but to study, question and challenge what I was being taught. This didn’t always please the powers that be and usually landed me in places I would rather not be and getting plenty of unwanted attention for my actions. I was an introvert and not exactly looking to be the life of the party. The popularity pendulum seemed to swing both ways. Those who viewed me as a rebel thought my daring classroom rants were cool. Others shied as far away from me as possible, afraid that they, too, would wind up in an hour of boredom after school or worse – a free pass to the school office.

The point of this blog is not to set off some classroom revolt against educators (some of my best friends are teachers). Yes, I do want to start a girl revolution, but we need to have some preliminary development. First, let me point out that I was never disrespectful. Insubordinate? Yes. Sassy? Sometimes. Disrespectful? I don’t think so. I simply asked questions. It is ok to ask questions. My problem was that I never stopped with just one question. And typically what happened is that I would poke enough holes into a logical argument to frustrate the teacher and the next thing I knew I was being dismissed from the class with instructions on how to find the professor’s office for my afternoon “appointment”.

Through all of my “troubles” in school and repeated trips to see the principal or the teacher after school, I never did learn to just accept things as they were handed to me. In college, I did have one professor (who ironically had the same unusual first name as me) catch me in the hallway one day and apologize for kicking me out. She told me she respected my position and after pondering our “discussion” was actually persuaded by my questions to rethink her position on the issue. She also said that many other students had challenged her on the same topic but none of them ever went about it in as respectful and polite of a way as I did. Take notice of that. I did. She who shows respect earns respect.

So if we are going to start a revolution, ladies, we need to first be respectful. No shouting, no cussing and no name-calling. We must use logical thinking and wisdom to make our points. No arguments can be justified without logic and proof. My “Girls Can’t WHAT? Revolution” will be non-violent and relatively quiet. Carefully calculated and planned. The male world will not know what hit them until we arrive.

Stay tuned…I have a LOT more to share on what I learned from my rebellious youth. There is much wisdom to be gained. The revolution is near. We must be prepared. Who’s with me?

Comments

  1. Avatar for gretchen says

    Yup. Okay, first off, lemme just say that apparently we shared a hairstyle in Kindergarten. Mine got cut off due to lice (TMI, I know! 8-|) and I screamed at my mom for days saying, “I hate it! I look like a BOY!!” So, there was MY trauma from early on. :)
    Next, I have a very different background from you as I was always one who did what I was told and didn’t even know where the detention room was located in my high school. Yes, I’m serious. But…once I did start to “question the establishment” I too was met with opposition. I chose to do my “persuasive” speeches and papers on highly controversial topics (geeze, I thought that was the POINT!) but my teachers weren’t very thrilled with my conclusions, apparently because they didn’t conform to the broadly accepted view of “the establishment”.
    I am a rebel in the fact that I DON’T accept something just because it’s been taught to me all my life. I don’t believe in evolution, because I know too much about it, for and against it…I don’t believe in abortion because again, I know too much about the truth of it. I am a Christian not because I have blinders on, but because my eyes are wide open to the world around me and what is really going on. None of these are popular views.

    Argue with me, beat me up verbally–I can take it, but you’re not going to change my mind. I only reach my conclusions through some deep and serious observations, discussions, and research. So…if you’re gonna come at me with strictly emotional arguments, you might as well not even try.

    Just because you “feel” a certain way about an issue doesn’t mean you are in the right. Feelings lie. You gotta do your homework.

    I’ve even been in situations where I’ve had to be very upfront with males and say “This is what you need to do as a man, now go and do it” (in a counseling situation) because at this point in society, where are the males who are standing up and speaking for what’s right?? Bill Cosby gets slammed, PromiseKeepers get slammed, and every other conservative-leaning organization or man who dares to tout the position of personal responsibility is run through the wringer.

    If the guys won’t step up and say it, then we have to. We can be the revolution wherever we are…as moms, as wives, as daughters, as sisters, as friends…we don’t have to scream and shout, we just have to speak the truth when and where it needs to be spoken.

    Aaand that’s a long post, and now I’m done. :)

  2. Avatar for gretchen says

    LOL!! Plug, plug away, Gretchen!! =D> Hopefully I’ll be able to finish that story soon. 8-| It’s givin’ me headaches.
    Remind me to find that picture, will ya? :)

  3. Avatar for gretchen says

    OK, and LOVE THE PIC. Little you looks a lot like big you — and apparently also Kel! ( Hi Kel! )

    Eric’s book: http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/

    Limited on time? Read “The Hacker Attitude.” If you are like me with authority — and are respectful — but just want to understand and not waste your time on nonsense — you gonna love what Raymond has to say: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html

    You know who he is, right? He is a key figure in open source communities — started http://www.opensource.org and is the one ppl look towards for foundation stuff.

    Read “The Hacker Attitude.” I think you’ll feel pretty inspired.

  4. Avatar for gretchen says

    Girl – I was so enjoying that story and remembering my HARSH 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Butcher, when you kicked me in the shins with this statement: “Yes, kindergarten was kind of harsh in 1979.”

    That is the year I graduated from High School.

    Moving on…

    OK. Here is your best work, yet. It is marvelous – it is beautiful – and, I completely get it because I lived the same life in school.

    I, too, questioned. Sometimes, it just didn’t make any sense at all to me — to this day, I struggle. I have gotten a bit better at “picking my fights” — in fact, believe it or not, a WHOLE lot better at that. Better have a section on that and “falling on swords” for the girls like us. Tough lessons to learn – trust me – I am riddled with holes.

    Gretchen. You need to reach Eric Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar. On my blog, on the Freedom page, you’ll find a link — there is a PDF file on his site. It is also a book and a very good read. It will help you with your cause. Basically, you are pursing liberty — Raymond will help you find it — and you can translate from geek speek to normal life for the girls.

  5. Avatar for gretchen says

    I’m on a Reading Diet, but thanks for the links, Amy. Yes, I KNOW who he is, but I haven’t read his stuff. I will add it to my list. I am currently working my way through Kel’s Story and I’m trying to focus on one book at a time. And that’s hard enough for me to do and you go tempting me with hacker stuff! :-O

  6. Avatar for gretchenAmyBeth says

    My experience! I’m the oldest of 6 kids living in a single-parent home from the age of 15. My mom homeschooled us and was a stay at home mom until my dad walked. At 15 I became the mother to all intents since my mom had to work two part-time minimum wage jobs to support us. At 18 I started working at the local latch-key program where she was the program supervisor. I quickly learned to use reverse psychology on the kids. You know how kids frequently do the same things you’ve told them over and over again to not do. Well I took my “10 Commandments of Latch-key” (there were less than 10 on that list, but I gave myself the option of adding more) and wrote them in the positive form. If I didn’t want them hitting each other then I made the rule “I will treat the other children the way I want to be treated.” I only had 6 rules developed in a years time but those 6 covered nearly every sinario. When they would do something wrong I would ask them which rule they broke and have them recite it to me. It wasn’t hard for them to find a copy of the rules. I posted them in multi-colored pages all around the room. Having them identify the issue and give me what they should have done helped reinforce the correct behavior.

    Would I have done something differently if I had the younger groups. Possibly! More trying to get the ‘rules’ down to only 2-3 instead of 6 and putting them in even simpler language. Remember I had 30 kids between 6-12 years of age in my class, however I found this method to work wonderfully well in retraining them and cutting down on our incidents. When I visited a year after I moved away those rules were still on the walls and the kids that had been there the entire time could still tell me all about them.

    Well that’s my $0.02. Hope you enjoy the perspective of a teacher who had to get creative in discipline. I must say I had one of the cleanest classrooms in the school. Can’t spank them, many kids don’t respond to time-outs and there are only so many sentances a child can write, but by golly they are able to clean. Depending on the child and the infraction, they would get the job of cleaning/organizing a cupboard or drawer all the way to cleaning the trashcan (my 4th and 5th grade loudmouth boys usually got that one).

    The only thing they never had to clean was the bathroom, since it was a school bath down the hall. I might have been scolded for that one.

  7. Avatar for gretchenJeremy says

    I recently had an authority dispute at my high school in Arizona in which then only half fitting punishment was helping 3 teachers create an anger management and authority issue class. In my search for information on the topics I stumbled across a description of myself almost entirly. That would be the description of yourself. Anyway, I don’t have much to say, just facinated that there is someone with an outlook on life so close to my own.
    Sincerly,
    Jeremy

  8. Avatar for gretchenkatelynn says

    hi just call me kk i ran for class president at my school, didn’t go so well my to best friends were running also.well guess what i only got two votes me and one of the boys in my class,yeah, i was so upsetbut one good thing is that if one of my best friends (ashley) wins i got elected vp (vice president) so now were all makeing posters bye!

  9. Avatar for gretchenkatelynn says

    its me kk again i told you yesterday about our class election at my school. heres how it went today my side made this like huge banner sayin a bible verse on it. we put all kinda red white and blue stars all over it it looks soo cool well the other side did that to but we were assigned to do it so they didn’t copy us and iv’e made ALOT of posters well bye tell you how tomorrow go’s!

  10. Avatar for gretchenkatelynn says

  11. Avatar for gretchenCindi says

    Oh how I remember Mrs. Boblitt and I didn’t have her! I had Mrs. Inman! We were all scared of Boblitt though!

    As for your questions….there were always questions. But at least you asked. I used to sit and wonder when you would quit asking questions but either way didn’t bother me cuz I usally wasn’t paying much attention anyway! lol

    Can’t wait to see what other stories you through out to us!

  12. Avatar for gretchen says

    Cindi – you lucky duck – you had Inman? The only thing I remember about Mrs. Inman was that we got to walk over to her classroom to watch the Letter People on PBS because she had the only tv. I do remember that she was really nice, tho.

  13. Avatar for gretchenKelsey says

    Thank you For this great post.
    I agree 100% with everything you have laid out, probably becuase I too was a girl throughout school who had to question everything.
    I believe in order to get respect, you must give it, and that works both ways.
    A revolution would be wonderful.

  14. Avatar for gretchenKeisha Hill says

    I would like to point out that even those of us who don’t normally revolt against authority can hold our own…I was under your influence for YEARS and never once visited the principal’s office. Except to get praised of course :) But, since I have a daughter who is more like you than me, I’m wishing I’d paid more attention!

  15. Avatar for gretchen says

    You have a mini ME? Ha ha – good luck with that. Must mean you have a smarty pants logical thinker. She’ll keep you on your toes. Enjoy it. ;)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Here is another fine example from my rebellious youth. In the 6th grade I had a teacher who was a real oddball. To respect his privacy, I will call him Mr. M and it is also noteworthy to say that he was the grade school principal at the time of my kindergarten incident mentioned in “Issues With Authority, Part 1″. Now here I was in the 6th grade having to face him as my language arts teacher every single day. Mr. M had some very peculiar gestures. They are difficult to describe, but they were basically a smirky grin and a nervous head shaking. In fact, my peers labeled him “Wobble” because when he was really angry (which was most of the time) he would suck his lips in and wobble his head. If someone said “I’m going to Wobble’s class”, we all knew he meant Mr. M’s room. I am also thinking that whoever invented Bobblehead dolls may have also been a student of Mr. M. [...]

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