Societal Pressure

As ideas go, I think that my one to help out in my local school was one of the better ones I’ve ever had. Today was my first day back for this half-term, and it was a lot of fun. To be able to spend the day listening to the nonsense, and also the intelligence, that kids speak is just fascinating. Then to feel the satisfaction as you help them to understand a concept in maths, or show them how to so something on the computer, is really rewarding.

Then there is music. There is no doubting that most kids love it, but almost all of them find it hard to resist if someone performs it right in front of them. So today I did. To an audience of 28 watchful eyes fixed upon me, I churned out some random improvised tunes from the keyboard. Given the reaction I also got in America while singing and playing the guitar, I am starting to feel a little like the Pied Piper.

The teacher then asked how many had been “inspired” by my music playing and would go home and play on their keyboards (if they had one). The response was almost unanimously positive. Cool. I know kids sometimes lie, but you often know when you have managed to connect with them, and judging by the looks on their faces I would say I did.

But there is another point to this. It’s something I said I was going to come back to. It’s the fact that I have such difficulty in my head squaring this with what I have stuck in my mind about society. I enjoy being with kids. It’s just something I love. But at the same time I have voices in my head – which I have invented through what our society says – that such behaviour is not normal. For some reason, it’s just not acceptable for a man to care so much for children, particularly of this age. It’s probably why we have so few male teachers.

It’s strange, because I start asking myself is it normal to have this level of interest in children? Then the obvious implication that I must be some sort of deviant, when it’s quite obviously nothing like that. It disturbs me that society’s moral panics have got me thinking in that way. But I can’t help but think that when people see me talking on the street to my sister and her 10 year old friends it might look a bit odd. Maybe it’s because you just don’t see that kind of thing in real life it looks a bit weird. But then what is normal? Just because you don’t see it “normally” it doesn’t mean it is actually bad.

So I’m wracked with these annoying thoughts. I know I don’t have to justify myself to me, but sometimes I can’t help but feel that other people may be a little suspicious. I don’t normally care that much about what other people think about me, but when it comes to something as personal and involving such potentially disturbing allegations as this, I sometimes feel like I have to actually prove to others that my intentions are as ordinary as if I was a female. Because somehow it is not as bad if a woman is involved in the equation.

Argh. Such complex thoughts. But it’s something I keep annoying myself with. I’m like that. Maybe it’s just paranoia. But I do feel that society does impose a much higher burden of proof on men when it comes to being interested in children. What can I do about it, though?

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