Thursday, May 1, 2014

Following Directions

The yard guys were here this morning, though I thought they were coming next week.  I put on my shoes and my gloves, grabbed my clippers, and found that I was already too late: the lone poppy on my acre of arid land had been culled as a weed.

Ernie, the owner/supervisor/all-around-great-guy, was holding it in his hand. He was as dispirited as the plant.  The fury in my soul was mitigated by the sorrowful droop of his shoulders.

"I just finished telling him to leave the poppy and take all the rest........"

He was as upset about being ignored as he was about the murder of the pretty little volunteer.

I knew just how he felt.

I ordered half a sandwich today.  Then, feeling hungrier than usual, I asked if I could have a whole one. I was not surprised when the smaller portion arrived at the table; I was surprised at my lack of reaction.

I seem to have come to expect that my words are floating out there, sometimes heard, sometimes ignored, sometimes not noticed at all.  TBG and I have taken to talking aloud to ourselves. Were it only one of us I might be worried, but that we are both doing it makes me feel marginally less foolish.  The fact is, it's a self-reinforcing little habit - I know that when I talk to myself I will also be listening.

Amster tells Elizibeth to clear the table and the kitchen counters and the words fall on a typical teenager's deaf ears.  The request should not have to be made, nor should it be ignored.  We're trying to decide whether to focus on instilling the behavior or demanding her attention.  We'll lose either way, but it would be nice to have a strategy.  
I'm often not much more compliant, myself.  I give myself rules - no Facebook after noon until the next day's post is written - but, when no one's looking, I cheat. That I am the no one who is not looking is a mobius strip in and of itself, and yet another example of not following directions.

Is there an inconsistency here?  Am I railing against others when I am guilty as well?

Yes.  I am unapologetic.

I'm as bad as the rest of the world.

I think it has something to do with the overload of information.  News reports repeat tweets.  Games are broadcast with words running beneath the screen.  CNN talks all day about nothing, sacrificing accuracy for verbiage, as the link to The Daily Show will (hilariously) demonstrate.  Being first trumps all... and that only works if people aren't really paying attention.

Following directions, and feeling consequences for ignoring directions, are basic skills reinforced in kindergarten.  Miss Levine gives multi-part directions just once at this point in the semester; in August, her instructions are broken up into mini-messages.
Come to the mat.  
Find your place.  
Cross your legs. 
Hands to yourselves.  
Eyes on me.  
No talking.
That litany is now
Get ready for story time.
In the often chaotic worlds her students leave behind each morning, Miss Levine imparts a sense of order and structure, an atmosphere of expectations and security.  The students are part of that environment; over the course of the year they learn that following directions has immediate and positive consequences.  They sit quietly, they hear a story.

I wonder where all that good behavior goes as we age.  Perhaps we need to reinstitute story time?


  1. Please don't get me started on story/circle time. Apparently, there is something seriously wrong with my little guy 'cause he will not sit down at circle time--not following directions and following the norm. He's been labeled as PDD NOS. For me, I've been thinking maybe he just doesn't want to sit at circle time. Maybe he just doesn't find it interesting. Nonetheless, he does have to follow the rules. Maybe we all are just rebelling as we get older?

    Or we are all in our own little worlds?

    It's nice to know I'm not the only one dealing with following directions.;)

    Happy Thursday.

    Megan xxx

    1. Labels and bored kids and rebelling... that's grist for another post, Megan!


Talk back to me! Word Verification is gone!