Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some rules kids won't learn in school

Text By Charles J. Sykes

Printed in San Diego Union Tribune 
September 19, 1996

"Unfortunately, there are some things that children should be learning in
school, but don't. Not all of them have to do with academics. As a modest
back-to-school offering, here are some basic rules that may not have found
their way into the standard curriculum.

Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the
phrase, "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who
said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation
ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule
No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much
as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you
feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated
self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school.
And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even
have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He
doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's
not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grand-parents
had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They
weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been
embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are
responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the
boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you
turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a
baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are
now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and
listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before
you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents'
generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life
hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get
the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class
valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as
important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance
to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers
off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight
hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on.
While we're at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your
self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to
self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your
problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials.
In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs.
Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic.
Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his
mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing
yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the
impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is
romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a
bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it
was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.
You're welcome."

His books should be required reading for all middle and high school students: