Starting last week, we pick up Katie's friend and bring her to school with us in the morning. This morning they were talking about Katie's "friendship book" which was filled up by her friend. I knew that the book was given to her in one of those birthday parties she attended. My mistake though was I didn't check what was in it. Had I known what was there I would have offered a different friendship book for my daughter.
So what got me livid? what got my heart boiling first thing in the morning that the thought about it kept me gritting my teeth and my fingers itching to blog about it? Mind you, I did try my event-appraisal-emotion technique (which was what I was supposed to write about last Monday) just to get a clearer head and a better look at the situation. But I was still seething and I still felt I need to voice out my thoughts, so here I am.
The girls were reading the response when they got to the category "stomste les" (most stupid lesson). Imagine my amazement hearing them read it that I had to ask them for the book just to see it for myself that such a category was there!
I have heard children say the word "stom", I even heard adults refer to themselves as "stom" with the usual line "oh wat stom van mij, he?" I even heard a grandma say this line to her grandchild and pose the question to myself "but what are you then relaying to your grandchild by calling yourself stupid?" I hear this word over and over again in children shows and even see it in children's books! Even our dear Borre books which we have subscribed to for years have that word in some of their books. A word which we just skip from reading when we come across to it.
For years this issue hang on me and my belief on the power of words. I question it daily when I hear it and try to put it in as "it is just so" or what the Dutch will say "gewoon". But after seeing this in my daughter's friendship book and hitting my head over not reading it when she got it, made me decide not to keep my thoughts at bay anymore.
SO WHAT IS THIS CULTURAL FASCINATION WITH "STOM"?
I don't understand why people use it like "a stopwoord" (stopgap, filler) like it is necessary or an excuse to everything ("oh stomme ding! (oh stupid thing!)) I don't understand it at all nor will I ever condone it. We try as parents to encourage our children to respect one's self and others. We emphasize on thinking how our words affect others. So think along with me,
As a parent, what do you think saying stom to one's self in front of impressive children convey? Did you not belittle yourself as a parent in the process?
How do you think children take ownership of their actions or words when they can take it out casually on a "stupid thing, a stupid event, a stupid circumstance?
How do you think these words "stomste les" convey to children?
As an educator, I am appalled that nobody have put a stop to this. Words such as these convey a belittling attitude towards their teachers and school. Why not use "Mijn minst favoriete les?" (My least favorite lesson?). But better yet why not drop that altogether and choose better wording like:
"Welke les vind ik het meest uitdagend?" (Which lesson do I find the most challenging?)
"Van welke les wil je meer weten?" (From which lesson will you want to know more?)
Or if you want to give it point of reference to know more where to help children, you can also ask
"Met welke les heb je moeite?" (With which lesson do you have difficulty with?)
So again I go back to the same question, WHAT IS THIS CULTURAL FASCINATION WITH STOM AND WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST DROP IT?