'Tears will Get you Sympathy...'
By: Archie Wortham

Content from Fathers Helping Fathers

“Tears will get you sympathy. Sweat will get you change,” is something one of my former bosses had outside his office. I think about those words, and think about what teachers do to some of our boys.

Recently, after hearing one time too often how much some of his teachers hated him, I told my son, to suck it up. Take control. It’s a fact. There will be people who will hate you…no matter what you do. It’s more of a fact if you are a minority and have a degree of ambition. Some of you may disagree…and to you, I say some people are just SOS: stuck on stupid. Life’s not easy. The sooner our kids learn that, and we tell them that, they can start learning how to get out of our houses and on their own.

As I listen to my sister revel in her latest incantation…I realized how many times I’d been “stuck on stupid.” Like just recently I sent out a mass email for people on a reading list to pray for our president. I added the caveat that regardless of how you felt, this man and our country needed our prayers. Well needless to say some person who was SOS chose to add his opinion. I was floored, embarrassed, and for a moment…stuck on how stupid I could be naive enough to not think that some people would allow pettiness or politics to cloud over the desire to make the world better by simply asking for people to pray for somebody. Some people are just evil.

We’ve all ran into these holier than thou types. I remember people in high school couldn’t get over how this one teacher treated me. I couldn’t get over that either. I never will forget one time in her English class she told the class that I “always had a habit of pushing myself where I wasn’t wanted.” I was 17 years old! I was toward the end of my battles with all aspects of puberty. I didn’t live with my mom and dad. To hear this in front of my fellow classmates, who didn’t need one more reason to call me nerd…, was more than I could take. Fortunately there were teachers in my high school, who cared, and it was in the office of one of them, Mrs. Epps, I was consoled, and told I just have to learn to deal with people who don’t like you. It’s their problem…not yours. Rise above it, and do what you can to take control of the situations.

I gave these words to my son. Knowing he was too young to fully appreciate the audacity or shrewdness of it all, I shared with him how we can make ourselves sympathetic. I shared with him how a little bit of sweat could bring about change. I told him that with horrid teachers…show them! Show them what you are made of. Be all you can be. Do your work. Excel as best you can. Let them take the knocks from those around him. If they are unfair! People will notice. If they pick on you! People will notice. If you rise above their expectation, do great things, achieve success? The people that matter will notice.

Some teachers are mean. Many are in a power struggle, and have no business in the classroom. And when kids don’t tell their parents what’s going on, sometimes it’s just too late to fix issues parents and kids could have worked out together and won together. That’s what it’s all about…winning, being successful, and yes, being in control. So I told my son, and feel free to share this with your sons and daughters, turn things around. How? By taking control!

I told my son that a lot of times teachers destroy drive by having low expectations. They push students to the limit by berating them, and rather than having a prophecy of achievement, they have a prophecy of failure. They have their favorites, and no matter what you do…want…or how you try…you can’t break the code. But what you can do is your best.

I know that there are good teachers out there. Some of you who are reading this are among them. But you also will agree there are some wretched and wicked teachers who would give Harry Potter's Snape, a run for his wicked wand.

Sweat indeed will get you change. Our kids need to realize many of the things they have is because of the people who came before them. Our kids need to realize, as Jesse Jackson states, crying will indeed bring out the media as it did in New Orleans. People will feel sorry for you for awhile, but like Picasso tells us, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Indeed, inspiration may come, but it takes work to make a masterpiece.

Parents, that’s what we have: masterpieces. God was selective in giving us the children He gave us. Our kids need to know we are on their side. Their teachers need to know that the parents are on their side. And more importantly, the kids need to know, that they are in charge of their education. Teachers can’t take it away from them. As parents, we can’t give it to them. And the government cannot steal it from them…once they have it. That’s the bitter truth, and the sweat of change, as men become fathers.