Saturday, January 18, 2014

Believing is believing

Sometimes Person A will tell you something that happened, which happened to involve Person B. And then Person B has a slightly different take on it. Both believe their version is the truth. Whom do you believe?

There are people in life who lie. This happens pretty much every day, particularly with politicians. I am sorry to say, but at this point I almost refuse to believe anything that comes out of an elected official's mouth, regardless of political party. Sometimes they are just going with the whole CYA strategy. Other times they might actually be convincing themselves that they have it right. Maybe their fingers are crossed?

We also see this with (mostly college) coaches. How many of them say that this is their dream job and they are here for the kids. And then a few weeks or months, or maybe even a year, later they have found another "dream" job. (I do realize people can change their minds. And, yes, I am speaking about Penn State, now that the tables are turned on us.)

I have gone through things like this personally. With my kid, with friends, with relatives. Heck, even with things I said (and did not say). In some cases, it is clear that the people are lying. But at other times, it seems to me that people may think their version of the truth is, well, the truth. In their mind, that is how the event went down, or that is what they remembered saying.

Last year when I was subbing, apparently several children thought I had called them something which I absolutely did not. It was something I would never say to the kids, as I have always tried to build them up. Heck, I hated to even say to kids that they had a wrong answer and would often say things like (unless it was math), "Well, that is an interested perspective, but there is more to it."

This caused me great distress because at first blush, to me it meant one of the following situations had occurred: 1. These kids really had thought that is what I had said. 2. These kids just did not like me and wanted me to get in trouble. Neither scenario was appealing to me. And, in fact, when I had talked to some other parents who told me that their children had not heard me say that, that they did not believe for a second I would say that, it puzzled me even more. Fortunately, the principal knew me enough and believed I would never say that. Or so she said. :-)

Ultimately, I concluded that the kids took something I had said and turned it into something more. I can see where the comment I had said may have seemed negative, though I did not mean it that way. Instead, or maybe in addition, it was possible I had corrected a child who said something negative by repeating what that child said by saying "We don't say X"; and the children, who were loud at that point because we were doing a group activity, heard just the last part and thought I was saying that negative thing.

As I said to several parents at the time, I would never want the kids to think I had thought of them that way, because I did not. That made me sad as a teacher and as a parent. But the reality is that those parents believed their kids, and there is not much I can do about that. If my child came home and said that Mrs. X said "__" I would first grill her to see if her story stuck. But my child is pretty darn truthful, so I would probably believe her. But I also would probably do nothing about it, unless I thought it was completely egregious or heinous. I give people, especially teachers, multiple chances as well as the benefit of the doubt.

So what is my point of dredging this up, almost a year later? Well, it is sure not to stir the pot and have some parents who have read this blog in the past call me up and yell at me (as has happened to me before). If any of you are reading this, please just read my words, and choose to believe them or not. But please, please don't call me.

No, my point is that sometimes in life we really believe what others say and sometimes we ourselves perceive a situation in a certain way which may not be entirely accurate.

And I am afraid there is not much we can do about it. So we have to just agree to disagree and believe what we want.

Or not.

1 comment:

bluzdude said...

This post makes me think of something once said by the prophet George Costanza, regarding the speaking of untruths: "It's not a lie, if you believe it."