Recollections of a High School Counselor: “A Little Privacy Please”

“All I’m asking for is a little respect, just a little bit.”

A Right to Privacy”

Interesting occurrence at school the other day. I had a teacher send up a student so that I could talk to him about respect. I immediately figured he had been disrespectful to her in class, but as I read on it had nothing to do with him disrespecting her, it had to do with him disrespecting students right to privacy. Apparently during lunch the teacher had seen him standing in the proximity of the girls restroom in one of the quads. He was there for most of the period. The teacher finally approached him and asked him to move away which he did without any problem. However the teacher noticed that you could see a little way into the restroom from where he was standing and thought the worst of the situation. She sent him to me so that I could speak to him about it.

Before speaking to him I called the teacher for some clarification. She said that she hadn’t seen him staring into the restroom or anything and that you couldn’t see the girls doing anything from where he was standing, but you could see them walk in a few feet beyond the door. She felt that some of the girls going in might have felt uncomfortable. So, I spoke with him and it went well.  He told me he had been in that particular spot because it’s shady and nobody would bug him there. He said he had been  texting his girlfriend who goes to another high school nearby. He was even willing to show me the text. He said he had no idea he was making anyone uncomfortable and wouldn’t stand there again.  We talked for awhile about peoples perceptions and how one thing can look like something totally different to another person. It was a good conversation when we were finished I sent him back to class.

The incident got me thinking about a similar incident that I had when I was younger and respect in general. The kid could have gone on the defensive and had a major attitude with the teacher or with me about the whole incident, being falsely accused or singled out like he was, but he was very respectful, a rare commodity among many of today’s youth.

When I was a kid I was taught to be respectful to everyone even strangers, particularly my elders, meaning adults, older people, but not exclusively old people. That meant saying, things like please, thank you, excuse me, etc, but it also meant displaying a pleasant attitude. If you didn’t you would surely pay for it later because mom and dad wanted their kids to be seen as respectful, they wanted people to see that they were raising us right, they hated to be embarrassed. Paying for it later could mean just about anything, a good scolding, a firm shaking, a slap, a pinch or worse yet the belt! Actually there was a good chance that you might be scolded, shaken, slapped or pinched right on the spot, or immediately after you committed the crime, spanking was usually reserved for later, unless you really super embarrassed them.

I recall a few times not being as respectful as I apparently should have been and getting slapped, pinched, punched or spanked especially during my teens, but it was the sixties and I was a little rebellious. Yeah, and as the leather flew I’d hear “Don’t you ever talk to Mr. Day that way again!” or  “If you ever behave like that again in front of company you’ll really get it!”(as if I wasn’t already really getting it) or “I didn’t teach you to talk like that in front of grown-ups!” Hey, my dad was a truck driving man what did they expect!

All in all I think I was a pretty respectful kid. I remember when I got in trouble at school for the same thing as my student, disrespecting someones right to privacy, my own girl’s restroom incident! I was in eight grade at the time and got called in to the principal’s office first thing one fine Monday morning. I couldn’t imagine why. I remember sitting there when Sister Regis came in and sat across from me, she looked pissed, but then she always looked that way, most of the nuns did. She commenced to inform me that she had seen me at mass the previous day which I at first thought to be a good thing, but then she said she knew why I had chosen to stand at the rear of the church in front of the row of glass doors that separate the main part of the church from the vestibule.

looked that way, most of the nuns did. She commenced to inform me that she had seen me at mass the previous day which I at first thought to be a good thing, but then she said she knew why I had chosen to stand at the rear of the church in front of the row of glass doors that separate the main part of the church from the vestibule.

Hello! maybe because the church was full! Duh!  But no, that couldn’t possibly be the reason. It was much more sinister than that She said the reason I was in that particular spot was so that I could turn my head and look directly into the brides room/ girls restroom every time the door was opened and watch the girls take care of their business!

Well I didn’t mean to be disrespectful but I found the whole thing hilarious. That was definitely not the reason I was standing there. Jeez she had a dirtier mind than me! Well I guess I kind of smirked and that didn’t go over well. Regis flew into a rage, (and if you went to Catholic school you know what a raging nun is like!) stood up and yelled” This is not funny young man! You have committed a sin!” then she slapped me! It hurt, but not enough to wipe the grin of my face so she slapped me again, grabbed me by the arm and sat me outside her office while she called my mom. Believe me I was no longer smiling. the thought of my mom getting involved scared the crap out of me! I knew she was going to kill me, then my dad would have his turn. Remember those days, if you got in trouble at school you got it worse at home!

My mom showed up about twenty minutes later and shot me the evil eye as she walked into the office. Soon her and Regis were in conference behind closed doors. I sat there thinking about the spankings, and the restrictions I would soon be receiving, yeah the future wasn’t looking too bright. When they came out maybe fifteen minutes later my mom didn’t look too happy, (but then would you be happy if you just found out your son was a pervert!) Sister Regis looked quite pleased with herself, one of her little sheep was in the midst of learning a valuable lesson, one she was sure would get worse once we were at home. She suspended for the rest of the day and released me to my mother.

Walking out to the car was like walking the last mile, you know ‘dead man walking’. When we got to the car and were uncomfortably aboard, I braced myself for what I thought for sure was about to come, phase one of my punishment, a slap or at least a pinch, but nothing happened. Instead my mom just sat there looking at me with this really weird look on her face, it gave me the creeps. It felt like we sat there for hours, I was really sweating it. At long last she shook her head slowly, smiled and said, “looking into the brides room to watch the girls (pause) how ridiculous.” “Next Sunday find a seat inside the church okay?” I could only nod. I was in a total state of shock! Sometimes my mom could really be cool, my dad too.

My girls bathroom incident turned out okay, I could hope my student went away feeling the  same about his.

Just a Thought…

 

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