When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders.

When I pick Harper up at pre-school each day at 11:30, I sometimes get there early enough to see Meredith at recess. (One of my very favorite things to do is park the car, listen to a little This American Life, and watch Meredith running around with her friends. Sometimes I have hot tea with me. It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?)

This morning as the kindergarten kids lined up for the walk back to the building, I noticed a plastic bag blowing around on the sidewalk. As the kids passed the bag, many of them jumped over it. A few kicked it. Meredith picked it up and tried to hand it to the recess monitor.

Before I go any further, please know that although her room is a complete disaster, Meredith is very sensitive to litter. Together, we’ve picked up quite a few discarded cups and cans out of parking lots. I stop short at the scraping up of dead birds, but it’s only because I never have a spatula handy, and I’m a big believer in the circle of life and whatnot. (I’m also a big believer in Avian Influenza, so the No Spatula thing is really more of a decision than an inconvenience. Don’t tell Meredith.)

I’m not sure what Meredith said as she tried to hand the bag over to the recess monitor, but I could hear the monitor’s yell through my closed car window. “Throw that down!”

Meredith said something else.

“No! Just let go of it!”

Meredith looked crushed as she put the bag back down onto the sidewalk—being “forced” to litter by an authority figure.

After Meredith entered the building, I got out of the car, picked up the bag, and walked it over to the trash can—the trash can that the recess monitor had to pass by in order to enter the building with the kindergarten kids.

Tonight I’ll be teaching Meredith about civil disobedience and the importance of doing the right thing—even at the cost of respectfully disobeying an authority figure.

Sometimes the mom thing is really hard.

With that said, sometimes it’s really easy. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

27 thoughts on “When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders.”

  1. Meredith should go back to school with handmade citation for littering for that monitor. But then again, she’d likely ball it up and toss it over her shoulder after grinding her cig butt into the pavement and leaving it there to choke wild animals. What a ridiculous human being.

  2. Yay for Meredith! you could send her to school with a stick with a nail in the end for picking up trash/poking the monitor. maybe that would be preferable?

  3. Look at her go…and you, for that matter.

    What a good lesson. What a good girl you have there.

    Good job, Mom.

  4. I’m not one to promote pre-schooler unrest, but maybe you should have Meredith pack a can of spray paint so that in the event of something similar reoccurring, she can immediately spray the word ANARCHY on the wall/ground/teacher. Perhaps you can also find her a shirt with Che’s likeness on the front.

  5. at first I assumed the “recess monitor” was another kid (my kids aren’t in school yet..) but then from the rest of the post and reader comments, I’m thinking it was an adult? Yikes. Civil disobedience is indeed a valuable lesson!

  6. Fantastic! And, I’m glad my son isn’t the only one obsessed with picking up things out of parking lots, etc. We had to start carrying the antibacterial hand stuff b/c my husband FREAKS out every time Jojo picks up a receipt or discarded fast food bag. We draw the line and cig. butts tho. Anyway, good for Meredith, good for you, and SHAME shame shame on the recess monitor. If it were me, I’d have words with that monitor — nicely phrased words, mind you, but words nonetheless. Maybe the recess monitor’s boss?

  7. I read this last night and I thought about it a lot today. I don’t know what to say about it… I feel like kicking that recess monitor in the shins and I wonder what I will do when I am a parent. I think you continue to do just the right thing and you rule. I hope to be an awesome mommy like you someday.

  8. Isn’t Earth Day coming up? Maybe you could help throw an awareness party for her class. Invite the recess lady.

  9. That recess “lady” clearly made a bad choice.

    Meredith tried to do the right thing.

    You are obviously a good mother and you should be proud of your child and proud of yourself for raising her right.

  10. i can imagine what went through you as you watched M’s confused expression as she was told to put the bag back on the ground. she seems like such a smart and compassionate little girl.

  11. You are an awesome mother for helping a little kid understand about the intrinsic nastiness of plastic bags for one, and two, for helping her to think that what the recess monitor did, was not what she’d been taught was right. Remember “Character is a victory, not a gift”. You are obviously well on the track to giving your girl some character. Well done You!

  12. Civil disobedience is one of the best things to teach a kid.

    Clara Jane’s crazy anti-litter, too. I have to clean out the pouch in the car door by her car seat once a week. It’s her trash stash. We could arrange for said stash to find itself onto a certain litterbug’s yard …

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