I have four distinct memories from elementary school that I have been thinking a lot about this morning.
There was a girl who didn't like me. She always carried around one of those puppies with big eyes. Everywhere. On what seemed to be my first day of Kindergarten (I'm sure it wasn't) she took her puppy and put it in my backpack. I saw the two girls holding hands and walking up to the teacher crying about how the puppy was missing and I felt so bad for her. The teacher's assistant went through all of our backpacks and found it in mine and took me aside. I cried so hard. I would never do anything like that! Why would she believe them? I thought about this almost everyday and it made me so sick that someone would think I would have done that.
I sat next to a boy in class. I never really minded being friends with boys or girls and we had a lot of fun together. One day he showed me the word find the teacher had given us and he cut the list of words out of it and put it in his pencil box so we could see the words when we took the test. I really didn't understand that that was cheating I thought it was just a smart idea. A girl saw us cheating and went and told the teacher in the middle of the test. I didn't realize it was wrong until the boy kept shoving the paper in front of me and saying he didn't want it anymore. She told me I knew exactly what I was doing and that I was a cheater in front of the whole class. I told her I really didn't know that it was wrong but she kept going on, yelling.
Third or Fourth grade:
My friend was hanging from the monkey bars by her knees and I tickled her and she fell off onto her back. My teacher's whistle blew, I thought she was okay, yelled sorry and went in with my class, hardly thinking about it. Later, my friends teacher came in, took me aside and told me the air had been knocked out of her and she couldn't breath and I was scared of getting in trouble so I ran inside. None of this was true, I didn't know that I had hurt her, heard the whistle and had to go. But she kept yelling at me and telling me I was just scared of getting in trouble so I ran off. I ran off to pretend like someone else had done it. Eventually I think I just told her, yes, I was scared to get in trouble so I ran off, JUST so she would stop yelling at me and making me feel small.
Although this story isn't by any means a terrible childhood story I'm going to be vague about it since it is not quite my own. One of my siblings was trying to help out and used table salt to melt the ice on the sidewalk. Our mother wanted to know who did it, not because she was mad, but just to explain that we have two different kinds of salt. No one would admit to it, and I instantly felt guilt like I had done it. So many times I wanted to take the blame for things and felt so guilty about things I had done. Maybe I HAD taken the table salt, could I just not remember? Maybe I DID pee on the floor in the bathroom (highly unlikely, since I am a girl). My parents never caused this kind of guilt, but I started to feel it anyway because of school and the way the teachers made me feel.
Obviously, I shouldn't have cheated on the test. Obviously I shouldn't have tickled my friend while she was hanging upside down and fell AND I shouldn't have just left her there. But I honestly was innocent in the sense that I honestly DIDN'T know. I had never heard of cheating before, I just thought it was a smart idea to help us get through a test. I honestly thought in my 7 years that getting back to my class on time was the MOST important thing. I was less mature than my classmates, obviously.
The point is, I got to a point where I was scared of telling the truth because whenever I did I seemed to get questioned and questioned and questioned as if I had actually done something wrong. If I was telling the truth and this was the consequence, then what would happen if actually admitted I did something bad? Would they make me feel even worse about what I did?
I don't feel like all teachers are like this and I don't think all children are that naive and children DO lie. I don't want to give my children the benefit of the doubt all the time but I don't want to make them feel like dirt for telling me how they view the world. Or to make them feel like dirt for doing something that was wrong. Because lying kids = lying teenagers. I could always tell my mom what I did wrong without her making me feel awful. I didn't always tell her the truth, but I want my kids to feel like they can come to me and receive discipline without judgement.
Those are just my thoughts today.