Testing Time: Adults Behaving Badly

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” ~Charles R. Swindoll                                          

Childhood is an extraordinary moment. It has its own sanctity because it is the maker of first memories … and we make big deals of firsts in the lives of our children.  And first memories should never be ugly. Not ever.


But what has become of us?

Instinct tells us never to place children in the middle of a muddle. But here we are … hearing unbelieving tales of adult unfairness that seem such the antithesis of what is expected from the guardians of our children. 

Life is a long frustration. The great beauty of maturity is that we learn to keep our cool and to react only to the most insistent frustrations. Adults learn to separate the important from the unimportant … and it prevents them from the nasty human inclination to settle on easy scapegoats … and then to punish the weakest and most vulnerable. Like children.

Scapegoats are born of frustrations adults cannot control.  But frustration is never a green light to exercise a disturbing dominance over the smallest of the small. If that is the first impulse of an adult, then they are in a queer orbit.


Children cut off from pizza parties and ice cream treats because their parents exercised their right of refusal?

Shuttled to dank rooms to ride out the hours in designed boredom? Little humans in little desks made to sit and stare for hours … in of all places … a school?

Children confronted by some towering goliath … insisting that they revoke their parents’ own wishes … and sit for tests?

What the hell is going on here?  What has happened to our schools?

Where is the wisdom in gluing children to desks for hours as they squirm their way through some asinine educational gauntlet that has no real purpose other than to pay homage to some testing god? Who thought that a good idea?


This is a mess that cannot be unmessed.

When will we start over … and get this straight? 

Where are the anti-bullying champions? Have they vanished? Were those just paper heroics? Empty nonsense? I sense adult ugliness seeping through a holy firewall behind which childhood is protected. It seems too many adults are now comfortable liars … even with children. And worse, some have become hypocrites.

“There is never an excuse to scar a child. And if you’re in the child business … that sort of action condemns you to a special sort of hell.” ~ Denis Ian 

For children, school is a majestic cathedral. A near shrine where every minute should be crammed with as much wonder as a minute might hold. To disturb that atmosphere is to violate the inviolate.

Children running up school steps

A school has no place for anyone unable to plug into their own memory bank.  

If one’s memory of childhood evaporates, perhaps they shouldn’t be in the memory-making business at all.

And that is should be a sure signal to move on. 

image1-1“Childhood is a short season.”

Give it its due.

Denis Ian

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