Killing Police Officers……

Behavioralists, and other folks who study human interaction have their theories as to why it is that America is currently experiencing a police officer killing spree. It should come as no surprise that when you make your living by first strapping on a firearm and restraint device laden belt that you are at least acknowledging that you are going to place yourself in harms way at some point in your career. Professional police officers work hard preparing for the inevitable conflicts that are inherent to an authoritarian role in a freedom loving society such as ours. We rely on defensive tactical technique to protect ourselves as we go about our business. There are specific recommended techniques for approaching automobiles, houses, the placement of patrol vehicles, communication, and even how you stand when talking with a person of interest. When the contact intensifies, we rely on an escalation of our response to meet the circumstances, ranging from verbal control, use of chemical agents and electronic disabling devices to the use of deadly force. We wear protective gear in the form of ballistic vests in an effort to stop a bullet, devices that generally offer trunk protection at best, but can hamper your ability to manage a grappling confrontation. Our officers today are better trained, educated and equipped than at any time in our history and yet, are dying at an unprecedented rate. Why?

My generation of police officers existed during a transitional period in police science. We experienced a rapid evolution in equipment, training and the management of confrontation. Our early mantra, still evident today, was that we were “Gentlemen who enforced the law”, a descriptive obviously dated by the inclusion of women into the ranks of policing. The line between a gentleman who enforced the law and a gentleman who would quickly displace you from your shoes with force was very fine. Authority was respected and compliance was the norm. “Verbal Judo”, a conversational technique designed to introduce decorum into an enforcement contact, was not yet developed and when direction was given, compliance was expected……one way or another. Differences of opinion relative to a law enforcement officer’s authority were hammered out in court and not at car side or on the front porch. It was a simpler time, not complicated by cameras and the disrespect that is relatively common today. While this shift in the tone of enforcement action may be a contributor, it is not the answer.

I see a dramatic shift in the way we view authority. This is a narcissistic period in America, and generally speaking, if it doesn’t feel good, then you don’t have to do it. There is an overwhelming anti-authority attitude that is prevalent across our entire culture. When you have the mayors of major cities that choose to publicly ignore the common sense application of law in the detection and apprehension of illegal, criminal aliens, to score some obscure political objective, you are seriously undermining the authority and effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies that must cooperate to accomplish their sworn obligation. When a mayor publicly alerts a known criminal element within her city of an impending law enforcement sweep, you are undermining the authority and effectiveness of law enforcement. When you have states that ignore existing federal law prohibiting the distribution of marijuana, in fact encouraging this practice, then you are undermining the authority and effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction. When you have attorneys general who are held in contempt of congress or who rely on an alias to conduct their business, again for benefit of some political objective, then you undermine the authority and effectiveness of law enforcement. When political convenience trumps pragmatism and you permit hordes of pillaging rioters to burn a town down in front of your restrained police presence, you are undermining the authority and effectiveness of those officers. When you rely on the considerable authority of a major federal police agency to pursue a political objective in front of a super secret court, you are undermining the authority and effectiveness of that agency. In each of these instances, you have political leadership establishing themselves as horrendous role models for our citizenry and particularly our young people. Authority, today, is increasingly viewed as an inconvenience as opposed to a pillar of democracy.

The price we are paying is intolerable. Police officers are, by the very nature of their sworn obligation, authority figures. Authority figures that are being undercut at the highest levels of our society. They are being sacrificed at unprecedented levels by a culture that is developing a remarkable contempt for authority. The ultimate disrespect for authority is the casual elimination of a police officer. Until we demand accountability at the highest levels…….they don’t stand a chance.

The End of a Dreadful Week….

I sat in front of my keyboard for a bit this morning, thinking about the events of this past week. The turmoil in my beloved Republic seems to know no bounds, with guns, gun violence, political upheaval, messy affairs and the continued assault against the noble profession of policing forging ahead unabated. This morning, I was saddened to learn that yet another sociopath has killed three mental health professionals and himself in a veteran’s facility in California. I feel the pain, deeply, for my friends, neighbors and fellow law enforcement officers in Clinton, Missouri, as they prepare to bury another of their centurions. I have had enough, and it is time to sit back and recharge our batteries for the next week, sure to bring more gloom and doom to our existence. I have never been accused of being a Pollyanna, however, when the pressure is on, I retreat to my favorite coping mechanism, food! With that in mind, I ask my reader’s indulgence as I deviate from the news of the day to bring a positive perspective into our world of negativity. Let’s dig in.

The Wall Street Journal, with it’s usual candor and after deep research has concluded that it is, indeed, okay to eat a whole pint of ice cream in one setting! Can this be? They quote a number of health enthusiasts, you know, the folks who generally eat wheat germ, bamboo shoots and wild hickory nuts as saying that on a weekly basis, if you choose correctly, there are a number of great tasting ice creams available for the over indulgence that usually accompanies a nasty break up, bad week on the market or the news that one of your checks is happily bouncing it’s way back to you, courtesy of a displeased merchant. Men don’t curl up on the couch, wrapped in an Afghan, watching some sappy chick flick while savoring every bite of a pint of tasty ice cream from a soon to be emptied pint container, or do they? Well, maybe not, but an action movie rerun, the dog, a pair of sweats and a pint of ice cream will certainly assuage our bad news moment……..

Sure, I love to travel about. It might be on a motorcycle or in my pickup truck, or maybe on a bicycle, however; every jaunt is usually to and from a place to eat. God willing, if I finally earn my pilot’s license, I am confident that I will spend precious flying time headed somewhere that offers food as a reward for making the flight. This past week, I pulled our RV to the dealer in St. Louis to have a bike rack installed, carefully timing the trip to include a Pryor’s Pizza, in Rolla, Missouri. It is hard to think about the distractions in this world when you are confronting a beautiful, hot, succulent, pie from the Pryor’s oven……

Back to the ice cream thing. You may not be aware that our ice cream manufacturers are paying attention to America’s current “eat healthy” mandate. Ben & Jerry’s is offering a new line of deliciousness, “Moophoria”, that is said to be delicious without the guilt of over indulgence. There is a relatively newcomer to the market, “Halo-Top”, which is playing to mixed reviews, but is designed to be consumed in pint sized servings! We must not forget Breyers, a company that knows something about ice cream, with their new offering “Artic Zero”. These delicacies can be enjoyed with the smile that accompanies indulgence without the calories, as they all weigh in around the 250-500 calorie range per pint! Now we’re talking. These little treats can be enjoyed without the inconvenience of driving through Andy’s Frozen Custard, strategically located throughout Springfield, which serves a number of decadent concoctions such as the Jitterbug or Straw Anna, or some custom built, pint sized container of gastronomic sin. Then there is Cold Stone…….shaved chocolate folded into vanilla bean……

I take my cues from the svelte, no body fat examples of meticulous gym rats that I associate with on a daily basis. When these conditioning aficionados give a thumbs up to a pint of ice cream every now and then, who am I to argue? I can practically guarantee that a pint of ice cream, enjoyed with someone that you care to be around, will knock the rough edge off today’s turmoil. How can you miss with an endorsement from the Journal? Ice cream, the one anti-depressant that does not require a prescription or come with a warning about side effects.

Enjoy a pint today……….

This Officer and Veterinarians……

When you are a Highway Patrolman, you are going to become acquainted with folks from virtually every walk of life, some are outside of the law, most are well within the law and some, like veterinarians, are surely destined for sainthood. Over the years, I have relied on the local country vet to lend dignity to situations, almost always created by human error, that would tax the sensitivities of the most jaded officer. I thought I might share a few of those experiences with my readers.

I had just turned east on I-70 out of Odessa, Mo., on a very hot summer morning. Traffic on the Interstate was picking up and I had intentions of inviting a few “high rollers” to visit with our local magistrate judge. In those days, troopers were blessed with far more discretionary time than our officers today who are taxed with any number of obligations beyond working traffic. As I passed a state lettered road intersection, I saw what appeared to be a horse along side of the eastbound entrance ramp and I turned through the median to investigate. What I found was appalling. An otherwise healthy young pony, with a badly broken front leg had been tied to a reflector post and left there to suffer a terrible death from pain, shock and by now dehydration. I asked our radio folks to have the Odessa Police Department contact our local vet, Dr. Hanson, and send him out. They did so, and within a very few minutes the doctor arrived and began attending the pony. The doctor began preparing the euthanasia injection as I stroked the poor fellow, determined that he exit this world in the company of someone who cared. Dr. Hanson, a gentle man of even disposition was furious with the individual(s) who left this animal to suffer for what the doctor thought was several hours, and assured me that if I could find them he would be glad to draw up another injection for them. The little pony quickly sagged to the shoulder and was finally at peace as the doctor put his things away. The tears on the doctors face were as a result of rage as much as sadness. Predictably, we never determined who the callous individual was. I offered to pay for the call, and the doctor would have nothing to do with my proposition and our relationship was formed.

On yet another occasion, west of Odessa on the same road, I received a frantic CB call from folks who were transporting a very expensive horse through Missouri on their way to Kansas from Illinois. Their horse was down in the trailer and they were requesting assistance from the nearest vet. I quickly found them on the shoulder and the decision was made for them to follow me to, you guessed it, Dr. Hanson’s office, which was about five minutes away. I called and had the doctor alerted and he was standing out front when our entourage arrived. Before the trailer had come to a stop, Doc had the gate open and was in with the horse. The folks transporting the horse had far more money than sense, and had loaded this horse for long distance transport with a gastric tube to relieve bloat. The horse, jostled about in the trailer, had crushed the tube and died in our presence. Well, these well to do folks stood quietly as Dr. Hanson read them their pedigree and suggested they consider rocks as pets, as they had no business in caring for horses. His lecture was withering….

After retiring from the Patrol, we relocated to Warsaw, Mo., a move designed to facilitate my pursuit of crappie in Truman Lake. Another suffocating day found me leaving another retired officer’s house when I caught sight of what appeared to be a dog, in some distress, laying under a cedar tree along side of US 65. I stopped and found an old momma pit bull, battle scarred and obviously having delivered any number of litters in her day, laying under the tree in a great deal of pain, unable to use her hind legs. My attempt to help her was met with fierce resistance, as her pain was intense. The county did not have a catch loop, nor did the city of Warsaw, and I used my cell phone to summon the local vet, Dr. Anstaett, to help with the pup. He arrived, assessed the situation and used a shot stick to sedate the dog and retrieve her. We both knew where this was heading and after a three day wait for someone to claim her, the pup, who was not going to regain the use of her legs was gently eased out of this world. The good doctor and I had a rather energetic discussion over my paying for the call and euthanasia. In spite of his objections, I prevailed as I was intent on being a part of showing compassion to this old fighting dog. Before you ask, I have a remarkable aversion to shooting injured pets, having dispatched a number of deer and occasional cows at a farmers behest. Shooting a dog, for me, is a crushing consideration.

Will Rogers once remarked on the intelligence of vets as opposed to human doctors, saying that veterinarians were the smarter of the two, as they had to “know” what was wrong, the result of animals being unable to tell them. Mr. Rogers had it right. I have been privileged to know a number of great country veterinarians like these two doctors. Certainly, Dr. Jerry Robertson, recently retired from years of vet medicine in Sedalia, Mo. is one of them, as is Dr. Ray Alcantera in Warsaw, Mo. While they earn a good living, the work is hard, and the return, in most cases, does not compare to human physicians. This in spite of the arduous study inherent to this profession.

As a final note, a confession is in order here. I have stopped a number of these wonderful professionals, driving too fast, late at night, on a call to help a farmer or client who was desperate to save an animal in distress. I can assure my readers that I was always inclined to remind them of the law and to be careful……but saw little need to inconvenience them with an appearance in court. Critters and their doctors deserve no less!

The Fast Paced, Exciting Game of Curling…..

Given the decidedly grey, depressed pallor that is gripping America these days, with tongue in cheek, I thought I would offer a thought or two about the unbelievably exciting sport of Curling! In the highly unlikely event you missed it, the US just won gold in Olympic Curling. I am stunned that network television did not interrupt regular programming to bring this fast paced, inspiring competition into our living rooms. Sure we have the Super Bowl, World Series and NASCAR to contend with, but Curling….wow!

Before we can appreciate this incredibly fast paced game, we must develop some understanding of the mechanics of play. Curling is a sport (they say) that involves very carefully sliding big granite stones on a sheet of ice toward a target that is segmented into four concentric circles. It is played between two teams, each with four players, who take turns sliding these rocks toward the aforementioned circles, referred to as the “house”. Each team has eight rocks, with each player “throwing” two of these across the ice at the “house” located at the other end. Be still, my beating heart! Surely, by now you are starting to feel the euphoria that accompanies such a grand sport. As they say in the infomercials, wait there is more!

This isn’t just any old rock and there is considerable technique and athletic prowess associated with this great competition. For instance, when the rock shooter (my vision) slides the rock, two highly trained teammates carefully accompany the stone with brooms to sweep the ice in front of the stones and thus alter the direction and speed of the stone. What a magnificent display of athleticism, that I was obviously lacking when my grandmother would dispatch me to the back porch with a straw broom. If this isn’t enough to peak your excitement, the rock thrower can subtly induce a curve in the path of the stone, thus influencing it’s ultimate stopping place. As you have surely deduced by now, the score is determined by the number of stones resting closest to the center of the house. One can only imagine the strategy and playbook attendant to this exciting sport. These rocks weigh between 38-44 pounds. It is no wonder they slide them as really “throwing” them is out of the question.

Curling is thought to have originated in Scotland in the 1500’s. This is the result, presumably, of the frozen nature of water in this region, during the winter, and nothing much else to do. I am told there are plenty of rocks in this part of the world, most of which are too big to throw, so; viola, we have Curling. Football was a distant thought but there is something inherently undignified in reaching under another man’s kilt to accept a carefully snapped ball……..anyway, to the uninitiated, casual viewer, there is much that escapes the eye. As an example, you may not be aware of the incredible technology that is employed in the selection of materials for the broom. While some synthetic material is in use, true curlers rely on horse hair, hog hair or some form of fabric. Fans of Duluth Trading Company attire are familiar with a style of pant they advertise as “ball room” pants, for rather obvious reasons. Curling pants, for men, are also carefully crafted so that when the thrower crouches into the position necessary to carefully begin his throw, his movement is not accompanied by a change of several octaves in his voice! No discussion about the dynamics of curling would be complete without mentioning the beautiful crafted, teflon soled shoes, designed to facilitate a controlled slide across the ice. Oh the beauty and majesty of it all! Think about this the next time you skip a rock across a frozen pond (or unfrozen for that matter). You could be planting the seeds of this majestic sport in the minds of your children and grandchildren.

So it is. America wins gold in another thrilling upset of our Scandinavian competitors. You would think by now, these countries would know it is difficult to slide anything past a determined American athlete.

Satire aside, congratulations are in order. Excellence in anything is beautiful to watch.

Guns and Sociopaths…

Just under two years ago, I wrote a piece about guns, specifically black rifles and illustrated my position with a story about a fellow named Carlos Hathcock. I have repeated the operative paragraphs in this writing, as they are still as applicable today, after the most recent slaughter, as they were when I originally penned them. With subtle edits, this was my point, then, and yet again today.

There is little need to weigh in on what constitutes an “assault rifle”. Progressives and our liberal friends love the descriptive “assault”. It is easy to say, catchy and takes little room on a printed page. To the less informed among us, they are typically black, polymer stocked and semi-automatic in operation, with a detachable magazine. They may, in actuality, be green, camo, brown or any color, are usually relatively compact and have far too many buttons, levers and attachments for gun controllers to wrap their minds around. They come in a wide variety of weights and calibers, although the venerable 5.56 MM easily predominates. A very popular squirrel rifle, the Ruger 10-22, by definition, qualifies. Folks who rail against these rifles remind me of people who come home and kick the dog because they experienced a flat on the way home. The dog did not cause the flat and these rifles are not fueling the homicidal, sociopathic rages we are seeing…..

During the Vietnam War, the Viet-Cong and North Vietnamese Army or NVA, placed a bounty on our most prolific sniper, Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, also known as “White Feather” to our enemy. This bounty was the result of the Gunny killing 93 enemy soldiers, confirmed, with perhaps as many as 300 unconfirmed kills. The bounty was $30,000.00 US, a princely sum in this era. He was a terrific shooter, having been raised in Arkansas, where he honed his skills with a simple .22 rifle. After the war, the Gunny said he never really enjoyed the kills, instead viewed each one as saving a fellow Marine from a deadly fate. The Gunny relied on one of the oldest, continually produced sporting arms, mostly manufactured in America. It was the reliable Model 70 Winchester, bolt actioned rifle, chambered in the very popular .308 Winchester round, a favorite of sportsmen (and women) today. By today’s standard, it was not an assault rifle. Now to my point.

The Viet-Cong did not place a bounty on the rifle, rather on the shooter. They understood that to attempt to deny the Gunny his rifle would not be productive. They needed to remove the shooter from their world. Interesting. Folks who ran around armed with cheap, stamped, poor quality arms, the result of the genius of Mikhail Kalashnikov, recognized the futility of attacking the gun, instead focusing on the shooter. Combat theaters are awash in firearms and, my dear friends, so is America. There is a lesson here.

We have co-existed with guns for centuries in this Republic. There is a likelihood that we are destined to do so in the future. After you work your way through the entirely justifiable rage associated with the latest mass killing, please take a minute to consider what has just happened. The beautiful children in this Florida community were destroyed by a system that utterly failed them. The sociopath that destroyed these kids was well known to local and federal law enforcement. The NRA, under yet again a full frontal assault, publicly endorsed the inclusion of folks like the Florida shooter on the rolls of those prohibited from purchasing firearms. The Executive Director of the NRA, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, met with Sen. Schumer several years ago, who promised to pursue this tactic and then failed to even address it. To add insult to injury, the officer assigned to protect these children, failed to respond to his most basic, sworn obligation, to place himself between them and certain death. A systemic failure….leaving 17 defenseless people dead. This being said, we should understand that even with enhanced background checks, you are going to miss any number of high functioning sociopaths who run quietly under the radar.

Sociopaths thrive in a free and open society, such as America. What is embolding them is a subject for the behavioralists and social scientists. Meanwhile, we need to take definitive steps to protect our most precious charges, and that my friends is as simple (and expensive) as denying access to our schools to folks who are intent on killing them. Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock’s first task was to get close enough to his targets to squeeze off the shot they never heard. Something and/or someone needs to be between our children and those who seek to destroy them.

Good Morning Colonel, It is Veteran’s Day…..

It is time for our usual Veteran’s Day visit and there are many things happening in this great Republic that you fought so hard to guarantee.  I trust you are resting well among your fellow veterans in that special place in heaven reserved for those who have given their lives so that we may continue to live in the greatest country on this planet.  America has come to recognize that a veteran’s contribution may be a few short years or a lifetime, and is worthy of acknowledgement on this special day.  I know full well your preference for brevity in the delivery of a briefing, so, sir, let’s get to it.   

This morning, while enjoying  breakfast courtesy of a local eatery, I noticed what seemed like a dramatic increase in the number of female veterans in the crowd.  Women are increasingly involved in military roles that were, just a few years ago, reserved for the masculine gender.  They are serving in line combat roles, and are doing exceedingly well, to include flying some of America’s latest fighter jets.  Although not directly related to a military role, your grand-daughter is doing an excellent job as a Highway Patrol officer, something unheard of in your day!  I am confident these ladies would meet your very exacting expectations.

This year has seen new highs in patriotism as well as new lows.  We have elected a President who is doing precisely what we wanted him to do, but he has not engendered universal support, as a result of his style and public demeanor.  He is a tremendous advocate for military strength, thus serving notice to the rest of the world that America will not be bullied. I suspect you would not be a fan of his blustery style, as I recall clearly your preference for moving in closely and quietly guaranteeing to your adversaries their total destruction in an encounter.  I believe your advice to me was that talk is no substitute for action, and that too much talk was usually counter-productive.  As you know sir, the past Administration was all talk, something you loathed.  In keeping with your philosophy of quickly closing with an adversary and dominating them, the essence of your favorite sport, football, I have unsettling news.  The game is in decline.  The game, as we know it, is facing two obstacles.  First, we are now discovering that participants in this grand sport are destroying the parts of their brains that control behavior and emotion.  The NFL has long covered up the destructive aspects of repetitive head injury, and many folks who are in a position to influence the future of the game are rethinking their positions.  Secondly, Colonel, there is this business of kneeling during the National Anthem, allegedly protesting some great social injustice.  The participants in this disrespectful ritual argue that it is a response to police brutality, or a comment made by a team owner, black oppression and racial inequality.  Before you ask, sir, I too have no idea what the relationship is between respect for the flag and National Anthem and these perceived social issues.  It is good that you and I are spared from the spectacle of you tearing through the stands, climbing onto the field and attempting to beat the hell out of one of these morons with his own helmet that he is using as a chair during the Anthem.  I remember your position on such matters, which was simply “death before dishonor”.  Eternity is a long time, sir, probably not enough time to figure this stuff out.

The state of our military, today, is excellent.  I can report with absolute certainty that our armed services are populated with exemplary folks.  They fight hard and clearly understand the stakes involved in a stint in one of our services.  They, like us,  trust our national leadership to carefully consider the mission at hand.  Through a better education than we enjoyed in our generations, they understand that history has a way of redefining the merit of our action in a conflict.  Exceptions, of course, exist to my blanket endorsement of the folks in our military.  A soldier deserted his post in combat, attempted to collaborate with the enemy, and was rescued from his predicament after the enemy turned on him.  He subsequently pled guilty to desertion and was then freed with no confinement.  The Army is now deliberating as to whether he should receive back pay for the time he was AWOL.  No sir, I do not have any idea what in the hell is going on.  I know, it is the death before dishonor thing again.  You should also know that a veteran sniper is in hot water for allegedly peeing on the corpse of an enemy combatant that he just shot to death on the battlefield. Some General, somewhere, says this was disrespectful to the dead combatant, as if shooting him dead was respectful in some way!  I am smiling too, sir….”

Today, Colonel, many people will visit the cemetery where you rest among your troops.  I will be there sometime next summer to visit and again reflect upon our relatively short time together. Meanwhile, thank you for your leadership and unmatched patriotism.

Today, dad, is your day.

Mrs. Johnson’s Husband……..

When you are a State Trooper, or any law enforcement officer for that matter, you become a known entity within the community that you live and work in.  The trappings of law enforcement, the uniform and the authority vested in that uniform surrounds you as you move about doing the things that are the substance of television and movies.  When you retire, suddenly your impact is diminished dramatically, and you begin that slow fade into the role of normalcy where you acknowledge your inability to directly influence the happenings of the day as they unfold.  Your family was always introduced as the wife of, son of, or daughter of (the law enforcement officer).  It is disconcerting, for awhile, and the reality, for me, sank in when I went from being Captain Johnson to being Mrs. Johnson’s (the elementary principal) husband.  As a new school year unfolds, I thought it appropriate to offer a glimpse into that role.  Although Sharon has joined me in retirement, leaving the classroom and corner office behind, her influence will be felt for years to come.  

Public Education has been crushed under the weight of beauracracy, funding cuts and the well intentioned criticisms of the folks who have not one clue what life as an educator is like these days.  The push for one size fits all, the clamoring for a trophy for every child and the utter nonsense of no child left behind has taken the breath out of  the educators who recognize the impossibilities associated with squeezing every child into one mold.  From my perspective, I can guarantee that a large portion of Sharon’s salary was in response to the demands and inordinate patience it took to deal with parents.  I was appalled at the numbers of parents who viewed education as a social platform, demanding parties for everything from Halloween to the birthday of a student’s pet hamster.  Parents often failed to recognize that when classroom gifts were involved, a less fortunate parent could ill afford to send their child to school with the beautiful designer candy box that other, affluent parents could easily afford.  I need not comment on the hurt feelings of those who received a handful of candy hearts while sitting next to a child opening a box of designer chocolates.  Never mind the hours of precious instructional time lost to such nefarious activities on a seemingly regular basis.

Mrs. Johnson’s husband made occasional appearances at school to share in Mrs. Johnson’s experiences in an effort to understand the exasperation of Mrs. Johnson when she had no appetite for supper after a vexing day.  I so enjoyed watching the children devour a balanced meal at breakfast and/or lunch, knowing full well this might be the only meal these children would enjoy this day.  I shared in her sadness in knowing that, in many instances, the buddy packs of food sent home with less fortunate children would be locked up at home or traded for cigarettes or other items when they got home.  I watched in horror as various children would model behaviors that were seen in the home, such as rolling, presumably marijuana, cigarettes or sexual conduct.  Parents who provide these types of environments were often the first ones to suggest that one of Sharon’s educators was incompetent to teach their child.

In this age of narcisstic indulgence, I felt great pride in Sharon’s assertive discipline approach to education.  Narcissism, as we know it, has it’s origins in early childhood, resulting in the necessity of “safe areas” for our college youth who gather at the flagpole because they have been offended in some fashion, where they can wring their unsullied hands in unified agony.  In this hyper competitive age, the fact that you were awarded a pink ribbon for finishing 38th in a class of 38 will carry little weight in a job interview.  Sharon’s children understood that when a direction was given, there would be no follow-up begging or threatened consequences, beyond the first explanation as to what was expected.  That, my dear readers, is what employers will expect of their employees.  

An important tool for folks in any learning environment is discipline.  In this case, I am not referring to corporal punishment, a consideration that my generation understood clearly, rather the establishment of rigorous academic expectations and the demand to accomplish the goals inherent to those standards.  We have strayed from the real world acknowledgement that some will excell, some will squeak across the line and some will fail, in spite of the efforts of our finest educators.  There exists today, an adversion to holding a child back when that action is exactly what the child needs.  In many instances, failure is a strong incentive to be successful the next time around.

Sharon can be a handful.  Her metamorphosis from the classroom to the corner office was not easy.  She recognized early on that her concerns had expanded exponentially from a handful of troubling parents and demands to the issues of every one of her staff members.  She worked hard to incorporate today’s expectations into the monumental demand that she provide the guidance and interpretation of new programs and methods into the common sense reality of public education today.  She made it a priority to recognize excellence in the classroom, however could be cat quick when her expectations were not met.  Perhaps this is why I refer to her as my bobcat, quiet most of the time but…….well, we all know what a bobcat is all about.  

I am closing this writing with a strong vote of confidence to those who are up to the task of stepping back into the classroom for another tour.  We are behind you.  In this household, you will ALWAYS get the benefit of the doubt!

It was kind of fun, being Mrs. Johnson’s husband………the guy who fried the fish at the staff fish fry.