Last Friday during lunch one of my daughter’s friends thought it would be funny to kidnap her phone.  She didn’t panic too much because she had it locked so there wasn’t much he could do with it.  When she got home from school she used our home phone to call her friend and ask him to bring her phone to her.  The guy told her that when he couldn’t find her at school he’d taken it to the office, explained the situation, and had been reassured that someone in the office would call Huh down to retrieve her phone.  Huh was never called down, which put her in a terrible teenage mood once she learned that her phone was in the school office and that it was too late to get it.  Not having a cell phone for an entire weekend is pure torture for a seventeen year old!

Huh survived the weekend without her phone and even got over her anger enough to get some nice hits in her two softball games.  Her plan was to get to the school early enough this morning to get her phone from the office.  I told her to be polite to the ladies in the office because they have a reputation of being rude to the kids at the school.  I didn’t hear from her and so I assumed she had gotten her phone okay.  When it was time for me to pick up our three high school girls after school Huh called me using Juju’s phone, “Mom, can you come with me to the office, they won’t give me my phone.  I’ve been trying to get it all day.”

I asked what was going on and she told me that she’d gone to the office in the morning and the ladies there acted like they didn’t know what she was talking about.  They told her to talk to the police officer assigned to the school.  The police officer didn’t come in until the lunch hour.  Huh visited with the police officer during her lunch hour and found out that she didn’t have the phone.  Huh went back to the office and was rudely told by the ladies there that she needed to talk to the police officer.  Huh told them that she had already talked to the police officer and that she didn’t have her phone.  She asked them if they could just look around the office and see if her phone was there.  They wouldn’t do it and kept telling her to talk to the police officer.  Huh’s next tactic was to get the friend, “James,” who’d originally turned the phone in to the office to come with her and explain to the ladies that he was the one who had left the phone with them.  Again, the ladies were rude and would not even try to locate the phone.  Unfortunately, the person “James” had given the phone to was not at the school today.

So, my daughter enlisted my help.  I calmly walked into the school.  I walked up to the first lady I saw and said, “Last Friday one of my daughter’s friends took her phone as a joke.  When he couldn’t find her he brought the phone here.  She’s been trying to get her phone all day.  I need to get her phone now.”

Suddenly the ladies in the office were very helpful.  One of them pulled out a set of keys and opened the vice principal’s office.  As we were walking into his office she turned to me and firmly asked, “Are you aware of the policy on phones?”  It stopped me.  I thought, There’s a policy in place if a friend takes your phone?

I said, “Uh, no.  What is the policy?”

The lady then proceeded to tell me that if a student gets a phone taken away by a teacher they have one time that they can come get the phone from the office.  I interrupted her and told her that my daughter hadn’t had her phone taken away by a teacher, that her friend had taken it as a joke and then turned it in to the office.  At that point I saw Huh’s phone on the vice principal’s desk and said, “That’s her phone.”

The lady picked up the phone and asked, “This is it?”

“Yes.”

She handed me the phone and went on again about the policy.  “The second time the phone gets taken away a parent has to come get the phone from the office.”

I looked her in the eyes and repeated, “My daughter didn’t have her phone taken away by a teacher.  A friend took it.  When he couldn’t find her he brought it here.”

“Oh.”

When we got home Huh was fuming that it had been so easy for me to get the phone.  It wasn’t lost on either one of us that I was treated politely when I went in and requested the phone.  It was like the ladies couldn’t get it for me fast enough.   I’ve witnessed other teens be treated rudely by the ladies in the office and I always leave feeling as frustrated as the teens.  Last year our high school football team was in the final game of the state play-offs.  It was a huge deal.  The final game was during school hours at Rice Eccles Stadium.  Of course our kids wanted to go.  Huh went to the office to get her ticket for the game and was informed that since it was during school hours she needed a parent’s permission to get a ticket.  Huh called and asked me to come to the school.  I went and the two of us waited in the very long line until it was Huh’s turn to get a ticket.  When Huh requested the ticket the lady snapped, “You need to have a parent with you.”

I said, “She does have a parent with her.”

The lady’s demeanor changed immediately and she was as sweet as pie as she handed Huh her ticket.

And it doesn’t happen just at the high school.  Two years ago I went to Mack’s middle school to check her out for a lunch date for her birthday.  The ladies in the office told me that she was already in the lunchroom and to just go down and find her.  After I found her we were walking out of the lunchroom and a lady sitting in a chair near the door yelled, “Just where are you two going?”

I turned.  “What?”

“Oh.  Are you her mother?”

“Yes.  I’m taking her to lunch for her birthday.”

“Oh, okay.  Have fun.”

When did it become acceptable to be rude to teenagers?  I know that there are some very rude teens out there, but does that give adults license to treat all teens with disrespect?  There was no reason for the ladies in the office to hold my daughter’s phone hostage and definitely no reason to treat her and her friend rudely.  The immediate response of snapping at them when they make a request is only going to foster feelings of resentment and teach them that being rude is acceptable behavior.

I’ll change the responses right here on my blog:

After Huh had asked for her phone she should have heard, “Oh, it’s in the vice principal’s office.  I’ll get it for you.”  To foster good-will a friendly comment could have been made.  “So your friend kidnapped your phone?  What a pain.  Tell him you’ll kick his butt if he does it again.”  (Said with a smile).

When Huh requested her ticket for the football game she should have heard (in a polite voice), “Do you have a parent with you?  I can’t give you one without a parent.”

When Mack and I were leaving the lunchroom we should have heard (again in a polite voice), “Hey girls, did you know it is the school rule for you to not be in the halls during lunch?”

It’s not hard to do.  It’s unfortunate that some adults haven’t mastered the art of being polite.

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