Saturday, February 28, 2009

The bad example

Here in Germany you find a sign at intersections with stop lights:

Be a good example! Don't walk on red!

Every time I see this I want to look left, right, left and cross to the little red man.

But the Germans are serious about this. Especially older people will stop you (when you get to the other side, of course) and tell you how that's not right and we have to be good role models for children. I just smile and keep walking. I'm not here to ruin their day, I'm just living my life.

Are they wrong, though? Certainly not. It's a great idea to be a good role model for children. If we could know that everyone would only walk when the pedestrian light was green, we wouldn't have to worry about our children crossing against the light. They would consistently see how the others do it, and if they didn't, there would be someone there to remind them.

In Germany it might work. I'm starting to wonder if Ordnung is in their genes - but it's certainly a part of life (nature vs. nurture? a little of both probably) and they definitely feel the need to conform to this practice. But still there's always someone who's flouting the rule, a rebellious teenager, someone in a hurry, me. It's just not something we can control.

And outside of Germany, forget it. Usually I think of the other extreme: Cairo, where crosswalks are apparently just decoration and the cars, drivers and pedestrians exist in some indefinable symbiosis. But all along the spectrum, there's just no guarantee that people will follow the rules. In the end they do what they want. (Wow. I think I could really take this somewhere, but in this post I'm just talking about crossing the street.)

So back to the role model. My kid's role model is me. It's my job to show her not to cross against the light. Just me. Not a stranger on the street. Honestly I don't want to leave something that important to just anyone.

And as for the other kids, they need to learn that not everyone follows the rules - and that they need to follow the rules of their parents. So I'm the bad example (when I'm not being a good example for ChloƩ :-)).

No comments: