Monday, September 20, 2010

Choosing the Brezik Method of Reacting

One of the recent blogs has once again brought up a memory of reactions that adults can have over children's behavior. As in the case of my niece, Laura, it was an unusual and unexpected reaction that caught me off guard.

I was in the ninth grade at St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas, and I found myself in a study hall. I went to the counselor because I thought it was silly that I would be given school time to do my homework, so I asked for a regular class instead. Because of the unusual request I wound up in a tenth grade World History class taught by Father Brezik.

There were rumors and wild stories of a legendary student at the school who kept a full fifth of whiskey and a fully loaded machine gun in his locker. I thought it was a made-up story, a conjured legend to impress everyone who heard it. Something like this could not be true in 1962. The stories turned out to be about a student who I shall refer to as Fred, and Fred was in that tenth grade class. The stories turned out to be inaccurate. Fred had several half empty bottles of various sorts of liquor, and the machine gun was loaded, but it was just blanks. How I found out about the blanks is another story, and a good (?) one.

Near the beginning of the year Father Brezik returned our first World History test papers. When he handed Fred his test, Fred turned around and put his back to Father Brezik, bent over slightly, and flamboyantly wiped his ass with his test paper.

I am the son of a man who would have completely lost his cool. This was an affront to all the dignity and respect a man deserves from a lesser human, a child almost. I expected Father Brezik to react like my father would have, and I probably flinched and cringed in expectation of the human explosion comin' 'round the bend.

Father Brezik shook his head and in a very gentle voice said, "Fred, I am so disappointed in you. You could do so much better. You are so smart, but your grades do not reflect that. I am disappointed in not only your test score, but in your behavior."

That was it! There was no explosion! There was no steam blasting out of Father Brezik's ears like would've shot out of my father's ears! Fred wasn't even in any trouble! I was stunned.

I was also impressed. Let me see father's reaction to this act of disrespect? Father Brezik's reaction to this act of disrespect? Let me weigh these reactions. Let me rate them. Let me compare them. Let me decide which one I like better.

I chose Father Brezik's way. It isn't easy, because I was raised in a very different way, but I have it down now. Maybe I'll blog about some of the ridiculous things seventh and eight graders do at middle school and my Brezik Method of Reacting.

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