Product 4
 We Must Be Careful How We Build. Short Story
This story describes the desicion-making process of a young couple in relation to their
children character formation. It's based on several experiences on the school the boy
and girl are attending.

                                                                                                                                                                                    WE MUST BE CAREFUL HOW WE BUILD
   “Julie, your daughter is very enthusiastic about a school activity.”

   “Yes, Laura, Billy is also interested in a basketball game at school next week.
I'm trying to get Bill to take him to that game.”

     Julie picked up her two children at her sister Laura's house and they went home.

     “Mom, a group of mothers and the teacher are throwing a birthday party.”

     “When will that take place, Joan?”

     “Next week's Thursday at 2:30.  You would need to pick me up at school that afternoon.”

     “Joan, you know that your aunt does not have a car to pick you up and I arrive late from my job.  Besides you haven't told me what you have to bring to that party.”

     “I think the teacher will send you a note about the activity.  A group of mothers is preparing the party, and I don't know if they will be asking for anything.  Some girls were talking about bringing an extra set of clothing and shoes for the dance.”

     “What kind of dance is that?”

     “Marge says it's a disco dance.  Mom, you can talk to Grandpa, so he can pick me up at school that day.”
     “I need to speak with Miss Thompson and with your dad.”

     “Mom, have you spoken with Dad about the basketball tournament that I told you about.”

     “Billy, I told him something, but we both need to know more.  For example, when is that game to take place and why you want to go.”

     “Mom, next week's Friday and Saturday there will be a basketball tournament at the school gym.  Several schools  will bring their teams to participate. The senior class
will be selling food and souvenirs.  They want to earn money for a trip. Besides the
game, there will be music, dancing and other activities.  May I go?”

     “If it is a high school game, why are you interested?”

     “Because Larry and Steve play on the 7th and 8th grade team.  Besides, Paul, Reggie and several of my other classmates will be there.”

     “But what is so attractive to you?”

     “Well, my friends are going to play, and also we will be hanging out as a group having a good time.”

     “Who will be in charge of you?”

     “There are always a couple of teachers at the sports activities and the Larry
and Steve's parents will be there.”

     “I'll have to visit the school to find out about these two activities and then your father
and I will decide what we will do about them.”

     Bill Anderson and his wife Julie live in a middle class residential area.  Their two        children are in public school, and they both work outside the home. Bill is a quality control technician at a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and Julie is a sales clerk at a department store. Julie needs to work outside the home in order to help pay their financial responsibilities.
     In the morning, Bill takes their children to the school bus stop, waits till the bus leaves
and then goes to work.  Julie picks their children up at her sister's house after work. Laura waits for the children at the school bus stop.
      Joan is seven years old and in second grade, and her brother Billy is twelve years old and in sixth grade.

     “Bill dear, I am concerned by some activities that will be held at our children's school.”

     “Yes, Julie. What activities are you referring to?”

     “Joan told me about a birthday party for her class.  The party will include dancing with disco music, and they will also use modern fashions.  I don't like the idea of exposing a seven-year girl to activities with couples dancing and modern fashions.”

     “That concerns me, too. I've also noticed Billy's reading difficulties.  Even though we make sure he is responsible in the finishing his assignments and supervise his grades, he has more reading difficulties than expected at a sixth grade level.”

     “Billy is also interested in going to some basketball games on Friday and Saturday of  
next week.  We should find out about those activities to make informed decisions, then we can plan to attend the activities with them or give them a reasonable explanation
on why we will not allow them to participate.”

     “Yes we should look into that.”

     “I have thought about the home schooling possibility.  In our case since we both work outside the home, home schooling is not an immediate possibility. The other alternative of putting two children in private school would be very difficult financially.”

     “You're right, Julie, but even if we could get them into a private school, we would still have to be very vigilant about what they are taught.  But before we jump to conclusions,
let's visit the school more often and speak with friends, relatives and other
couples that have their children in the same school.”

     “Yes, next week my day off is Wednesday; I'll visit the school then.”

     “Tomorrow, when I take the children to the bus stop I'll talk with Roger or Michelle
Turner to get their impressions. Sometimes Scott Turner brings his grandchildren to the bus stop if Roger and Michelle are working.”

     At the school bus stop where Bill took his children next morning, there were two
fathers and three mothers in addition to six high school students.

     “Roger, Julie and I have a concern that I'd like to share with you.”

     “Yes, Bill.”

     “It's about the activities that are occurring at our children school, specifically dancing
at birthday celebrations for second graders and dancing music associated with
basketball game activities.”

     “Well, yes, that kind of activity is frequent in today's schools, but I don't see any harm in it.  Besides it promotes friendship and companionship among our children and
between us as parents and the parents of our children's friends.”

     “My concern is on encouraging adult forms of dressing and behavior, for example,
modern dancing and immodest clothing. This promotes values we do not share.”

     “Bill and Roger, excuse me, I heard your conversation, and if you'd allow me, I'd like
to say something.”

     “Please do, you are very welcome, Mrs. Larson.”

     “Thanks, Roger.  My experience has been that our children have developed a rebellious attitude toward my husband and myself, which I don't blame entirely on those kinds of school activities that you are talking about, but they certainly foster it. My oldest
daughter is in high school, my son is in ninth grade and their sister is in fifth grade.
We have great difficulty making them understand and accept our values for honest
and productive living. On top of that they use disrespectful and vulgar vocabulary.
I am very concerned and disappointed with the way my children are growing up.
The school is not providing good education in values, manners or academically.”
     “Well Mrs. Larson, ultimately the responsibility for the education of our children rests in us the parents. Although an environment in which good values are practiced
and encouraged and good manners and vocabulary are used is extremely important.
In my opinion, that is why the home schooling movement is increasing every year.

     “But, people like us that have time and education limitations need other alternatives.”

     “Yes, I'll speak with my wife, and we'll visit the school to find out the actual situation and think about some solutions.”

     “Michelle and I are very close to our sons and daughter, and we have not felt that they are being misled. But, thanks Bill and Mrs. Larson for sharing your points of view.”

That evening.

     “Julie, this morning, at the bus stop, I spoke with Roger and with Mrs. Paula
Larson about our concern for the quality of education our children are receiving.      
Roger doesn't feel the activities that are worrying us promote wrong values in
their children.  He believes that those activities promote good social relations and that
the closeness he and Michelle have with their children provide adequate protection
in the development of their character.”

     “I think that closeness between parents and their children is very important and that
closeness between children is natural. The good social interaction he is referring to is between adults through participation in their children activities.
Remember when we were kids, there were no such activities at school, and in the
simplicity of our lives, we enjoyed many good and lasting friendships.”

     “Yes, I agree. On the other hand Mrs. Larson told us about the disappointment she and her husband are experiencing with the rebellious attitude their children have developed.”

     “Bill, I think that very soon we will have to visit the school to attend some of the activities being held that Billy and Joan are interested in.  That's the only way we can develop an informed opinion about the environment in which our children are growing.”

     “I agree. We have to become informed, but we also have to be prepared to remove Billy or Joan from an activity that we think is damaging to their character formation.”

     “That is easier said than done because we would be seen as inconsiderate, and old-fashioned people. I think that unless the possibility of physical harm occurs,
we have to act with tender firmness and be expecting some degree of rejection.”

     “Yes and anyway we are trying is to procure the best possible educational
environment for our children and thus for theirs also.”

     “Yes but our values and priorities in relation to the characteristics that are to be
incorporated in our children's characters might be different than those of a majority of them.”

     “Our immediate action will be to visit the school more often, but in the long
run, we will have to spend more time involved in our children's school activities.
That's the only way we will be able to fulfill our parental responsibility.”

     “Yes, we are committed to that, but in our case, we have serious time limitations,
since in order to visit the school, we have to coordinate our jobs.”

     “As a matter of fact, that's the reason we are not in a position to consider home schooling as an alternative.”

     “I will change my day off next week to go to school Tuesday since Joan's activity is on Thursday and Billy's is on Friday and Saturday.”

     Julie arrived at school around 10:00 and went to the administration office.

     “Good morning. I'm Julie Anderson, mother of William Jr. and Joan Anderson.
I'd like to speak with Miss Thompson, Joan's second grade teacher.”

     “We're glad to see you, Mrs. Anderson. Please sign the visitors log while I prepare your identification pass. The third period ends at 10:30, so you still have time. Please
have a seat, and I'll let Miss Thompson know of your visit.”

     “Hi Mom; we're going to lunch now. Let's go to the cafeteria.”

     “Hi; I'll meet you there in a few minutes. Miss Thompson is waiting for me, and as soon as I finish speaking with her, I'll meet you there.”

     “Yes, Mom.”

     “How are you Miss Thompson?  You look very well.”

     “I'm fine and glad to see you again.”

     “Miss Thompson, I came to ask you about the party activity scheduled for next Thursday after classes and also about Joan's academic performance. I'm concerned about her reading skills.”

     “Next Thursday's activity is the idea of a group of mothers because four class members
have their birthday in this month. There will be a birthday celebration with cake, ice
cream, refreshments, saloon games and a dance period.”

     “Miss Thompson, I'm concerned about the dancing and about the dressing.”

     “Well, Mrs. Anderson, the mothers that are sponsoring this activity are people
accustomed to participating in dance parties, and as such, they would like to include
that alternative. Of course, student participation is entirely voluntary.”

     “But isn't the school administration concerned about the values of proper behavior and self respect that it conveys to the students, especially the youngest?”

     “The school as an entity will not enforce any personal behavior criteria except proper
classroom conduct.  In these other activities that are sponsored by parents groups,
what is accepted is what the sponsoring parents consider desirable.  That's why
modern music and modern way of dressing is used. My suggestion is that you come
and join us next Thursday, speak to the sponsoring mothers, some of them are your
high school friends, and make your own opinion.”

     “My concern about Joan's reading difficulties is that I've noticed it seems as if she were
trying to read by identifying words that she knows instead of associating the sound
that corresponds to each letter like we were told to do. I suppose that this is the
modern way of teaching reading skills, but I find that it is very hard on the student
compared with the sound-associating method which we were taught.”

     “It's true that the method of teaching reading that is being used through the States is
different than what used to be in our days. Never the less, it is an approved method,
and with practice and parental assistance, it will lead to good results.”

     “Miss Thompson, my husband and I are making what I consider a responsible effort to assist our children in all aspects of their lives, including academics, I also think that you and most of their teachers are also doing their best, but I'm concerned that our
best is not sufficient.”

     “Mrs. Anderson, let's keep communicating on a frequent basis, so we can help each
other in our common goal of helping Joan.”

     “Yes. Please excuse me, I want to see Joan in the cafeteria before she returns to the

     “Thanks, for your visit.”

     “Mother, did you speak with Miss Thompson about the party?”

     “Yes, Joan, but before speaking about that finish, eating your meal.”

     “Mom, I have eaten enough. I don't want any more.”

     “Oh no, there's almost half a meal still on the tray; eat everything.  Remember that in other parts of the world there are children that don't have anything to eat. Food is not to be wasted.”

     “Ok, mom. But tell me about what you and Miss Thompson talked about.”

     “Miss Thompson told me that there will be a birthday party after classes next Thursday. I don't like the idea of bringing additional clothing and changing at the school.”

     “Lisa's mother and Jennifer's mother will be there, and they will help us changing our
uniforms to dresses. Both are your friends.”

     “Yes, both are my friends, but you are my daughter.”

     “If you speak with Aunt Laura or Grandma, they might be able to come.”

     “I'll speak with your father to see what we decide.  See, you've eaten most of your lunch; that's very good. I'll go with you to your classroom and then go to see Billy at Mr. Hodges's classroom.”

     “You can meet him here in the cafeteria; his lunch period is after mine.”

     “Fine, let's go to Miss Thompson's room, and then I'll return here to see Billy. Joan, the words that those students are using are bad language.  You cannot avoid hearing them, but never use those words yourself.”

     “Ok, Mom.”

     “Hi, Mom. I'm going to my lunch period now.”

     “Fine, Billy.  I was going to meet you in the cafeteria after taking Joan to her classroom.”

     “Then, I'll go ahead, pick up my tray, and see you there.”

     “Ok, Billy.”

     “Joan, your father and I want you to enjoy your school activities, but you have to be careful what you learn and know what things that occur at school are not good for
Billy and you to participate in and why. Bill and I will speak about this matter tonight and will let you know.”

     “Yes, Mom, I know you love me.”

     “See you at home, darling.”

     “Billy, were you playing before coming to lunch?”

     “No, Mom. Just running around with Joe and Ralph.”

     “And why are you sweating, and what is that stain in your shirt?”

     “We were playing with pens.”

     “That's not to be done during class hours, and ink stains are not easy to remove.”

     “Mother, do you think that Pop will bring me to the games on Friday and Saturday?”

     “What are the days and hours at which that tournament will take place?”

     “Thursday after classes, Friday after classes, and the whole day on Saturday. But the games I'm interested in are the ones in which Larry and Steve play.”

    “Larry Snyder.”

     “Yes Mom, there's a team of seventh and eighth grade students.  They play before the junior varsity and varsity teams, so we would be home early.”

     “Ok, eat your food. After lunch, we'll go to your classroom, and after that, I'll try to speak with the physical education teacher.”

     “Yes, you'll find one of them in the gym.”

     “Billy, I'd like to speak with your teacher.”

     “He's in the classroom. You can go there. I'll wait here with Larry and Steve until the bell rings.”

     “Good morning, Mr. Hodges.”

     “Good morning, Mrs. Anderson. I'm glad to see you at school.”

     “I just came by to say hello and to ask you briefly about Billy's progress.”

     “Billy does very well in science and mathematics. In social sciences and English, he
needs to improve. He is a very respectful and well-behaved boy. I think that if you
could help him at home with his reading skills, social sciences and English, he will

     “What  would you suggest me to do?”

     “He is very interested in sports, especially basketball. Sit with him to read the sports
section of the newspaper or a good sports magazine. Encourage and correct him.”

     “Thanks for your efforts and advice. I need to speak to the physical education teacher in relation to a basketball tournament in which Billy is interested.”

     “Oh, yes. That's this next weekend. You can meet Mr. Baker or Miss Turley in the gym.”

     “Thanks, have a good day.”

      “Good morning.”

     `Good morning. I'm Mrs. Julie Anderson, the mother of William Anderson Jr., sixth
grade student.”

     “I'm Mr. John Baker, physical education teacher and athletic director. How can I help you?”

     “My son Billy is interested in attending the basketball games in which his friends will
participate on Friday and Saturday. Could you please explain this event to me?”

     “Yes. This is a tournament in which many schools have agreed to participate. At high school level there is participation for boys in varsity and junior varsity teams and for
girls varsity teams. This year, we have introduced participation at an intermediate level,
which is a boys team for 7th and 8th grade students.  The games of this team are the ones
in which Billy is interested. There will be four teams participating, so there will be two
consecutive games on Friday starting at 3:00, and the winners play on Saturday at 9:00. Our team will play during the second hour on Friday, so that game should end by 5.”

     “Who sponsors the activity, and what is its purpose?”

     “The senior class sponsors the tournament, and the main objective is to earn money for their senior trip and the graduation dance. There will be an entrance fee, with which they expect to cover the tournament costs. Their profit will mainly come from the food and souvenirs that will be sold.”

     “I am concerned about the security of the students at school after classes, the high
sound level of music and the undesirable vocabulary of some of those lyrics.”

     “In the gym and its surroundings, us teachers that will be cooperating
with the senior class will be available. Now, if a student remains on school grounds
but doesn't attend the tournament, the school doesn't provide any direct supervision.
In relation to the 7th and 8th team games, most of the player's parents will be
attending.  Also, some of the parents of the visiting teams will come. Regarding the
the high volume modern music, its an attraction to students, so they use it in order to
stimulate good attendance and increase their profit.”

     “So, the financial motivation is the determining criteria on what's good or bad in the event.”

     “Basically, yes. But there's lots to enjoy in terms of camaraderie and team work ”

     “Thanks a lot for your time and orientation.”

     “Julie, tell me what happened at the school today.”

     “Joan was going to her lunch period, so I spoke briefly to her and went to see Miss
Thompson. I asked her about next Thursday party. She told me it was a birthday
party organized by a group of mothers; by the way, Jill Peters and Barbara Stevens
are in that group.”

     “Barbara is a good friend of ours and she's always been socially active. Jill has been distant since we left high school.”

     “Miss Thompson said that the mothers had organized everything and that I should go and see by myself. She sounded ironic to me.”

     “Ironic in what sense?”

     “Well, it was like telling me; “You don't participate in the school activities and yet bring forth complains on those who are involved.” Besides, she told me that the school
administration was keeping a hands-off attitude and that I should speak with the sponsoring mothers about any observations I make. I also asked Miss Thompson about
Joan's academic performance, specifically about her reading difficulties. She told me
this method of teaching reading is used everywhere and that Joan needs us to help her

      “But how are we going to help her if we were taught in a different manner? We
could conceivably teach her to read the way we were taught, at most. But regardless
of Miss Thompson's opinion, we are going to continue helping her the best we can.”

     “After leaving Miss Thompson, I saw Joan at the cafeteria. She insisted on attending the party. She said that Jill and Barbara could help her with changing from her school uniform into a dress and that my father could pick her after the party. That could work, but I prefer to make arrangements to attend and take care of her so that she notices that we don't agree with her being alone or taken care of by people not related to her. Jill and
Barbara are good people and good friends, but I am to take care of my daughter.
By the way, on a table nearby us, some older girls were speaking in vulgar language.”

     “That's very difficult to avoid, because words that we consider vulgar are common words in youth conversations today.”

     “You are right, but I don't like the idea of our children growing up using vulgar and obscene language.”

     “Neither do I, which means we have to refrain ourselves from using such language,
correcting them if they use it and keep them away from environments in which foul language is used, including our friends. You haven't told me why you
think is good for Joan to attend that party.”

     “I think that it will be good in the sense of sharing a social activity with her friends. It may be bad that the music and dressing may open her interest toward modern living styles that we consider harmful to the development of good values in her opinion of herself, others, relationships and considerate manners.”

     “So you'd like to accept Miss Thompson's suggestion of seeing for ourselves.”

     “Yes. I'll speak with Martha about leaving work at noon on Thursday. She will ask me to cover for her on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Being at school at 2:00 will allow me to
help Joan.”

     “Joan will be very happy, but we will be very nervous because we surely want the best for them. And what about the basketball game that Billy wants to attend?”

     “That's a tournament in which several schools will be participating. Billy told me that the games he is interested in are the ones in which the 7th and 8th grade team participate because Larry Snyder and Steve Barnes play on that team. They play on Friday at 4:00PM, and if they win, they would play Saturday at 9:00AM. The purpose of the tournament is to raise funds for the senior class; there will be an entrance fee, and they will be selling food and other items.”

     “I'll take Billy to those games on Friday and Saturday.”

     “He will be very pleased.”

     Thursday at 2:30PM.

     “Hi, Joan.”

     “Hi, Mom, you brought my dress.”

     “Yes, let's go to the restroom.”

     “And the shoes, Mom?”

     “Here they are.”

     “Thanks, Mom, did you see Billy?”

     “Yes, I said hello when he was boarding the school bus; we'll pick him up at Aunt's Laura house after the party.”

     “That's fine, Joan. You look great.”

     “Let's go, Mom. My friends should already be there.”

     “Hey, these are quite the decorations. I really thought it would be a lot simpler. Joan, go with your friends. There's Jill; I'll say hello and speak with her while the party gets going.”

     “Hi, Jill, how nice to see you.”

     “Glad to see you, Julie. Miss Thompson told me you might come to our birthday party.”

     “Yes, she told me about your group. Where's Barbara?”

     “She's in the kitchen organizing the serving of appetizers and refreshments.”

     “These decorations are impressive; it truly resembles a disco environment. It sure took time, effort and money to do all this.”

     “Yes, it took us some effort. I've worked for some time on this.”

     “Are you organized as a group?”

     “Well, we are all participating members of the PTSO. But for this activity, several of us second grade mothers spoke informally. The idea of a birthday party near Valentine's Day came from Louise Robinson. She has three sons at school. They moved here two years ago.”

     “Hey kid, stop running! Oh, excuse me, Jill.”

     “That's OK. After all that's what I'm supposed to be doing.”

     “I'll be glad to assist you. How did you develop the idea?”

     “Let's call the kids to be quiet. Louise is going to have a few words before the music starts.”
     “Boys and girls, let's keep quiet while Mrs. Robinson speaks to us.”

     “Good Afternoon, Miss Thompson, parents and students. For those of you that do not know me, I'm Louise Robinson, the mother of Samuel Robinson and head of the
organizing committee  for this activity. It is our purpose to congratulate Elizabeth,
Annie, Frances and Samuel, who are celebrating their birthdays in the month of  
February. We all express our gladness for their celebration. We also want, being near Valentine's Day, to stress the ties of friendship that have united us in this school
and this community. My deepest appreciation to Jill Peters, Barbara Stevens, Lilly
Palmer and Mary Burroughs for their help and great effort in organizing this activity.
Dance, eat, enjoy yourselves, and later we'll join together in singing “Happy Birthday”
to our friends.”

     “Hi, Barbara.”

     “It's good to see you, Julie. Joan is surely happy that she was able to come to the party.”

     “Yes, she is.”

     “Loud music.”

      “Sorry, but kids like loud modern music.”

     “Yes, and also this modern dress fashions with short skirts and blouses.”

     “Well, that's the way we dress, so it's to be expected that they use that style of dressing.”

     “Mrs. Robinson seems to be a very active person, and it look's like you make a very good working team.”

     “Yes, Jill and I have been working with Leslie in all the coordination and organization for this activity. Julie, could you help me with the ice bags?  Let's bring two bags, one for the punch and one for the Cokes.”

     “I'll be glad to. How does the school administration oversee these activities?”

     “The proponents meet with them to obtain their permission to have the activity. Once we had the teacher endorsement, we coordinated the date and the facilities to be used.”

     “Miss Thompson is here. She is very cooperative and has good rapport with the

     “Yes, she is. Her presence, even though not required, gives evidence of administrative approval to the activity.”

     “It's very good that the children spend time together in a supervised environment.”

     “Yes, let's take these appetizer trays to the tables so that the parents can eat.”

     After the party.

     “Joan, let's help Jill and Barbara clean and arrange the cafeteria for tomorrow. Pick up the papers from the floor while I help take down the decorations.”

     “Well, Julie, what were your impressions of our party?”

     “Barbara, it was a very well-organized and supervised activity. The children enjoyed it a lot, and I'm pleased to see Joan happy. I mostly enjoyed speaking and sharing time with
Jill and you.”

     “Yes, since we left high school we haven't had the opportunity of spending time together.”

     On the way home.

     “Joan, I liked how well organized the party was and that Miss Thompson attended. I also enjoyed speaking with Jill and Barbara and that they gave me the opportunity of
participating with them.”
     “Yes, Mom. Kate and Amanda also had a good time. We didn't dance, but we enjoyed
playing amongst ourselves. Also the cake, ice cream and appetizers were very good. Did you see Lisa's dress?”

     “You mean in the red blouse and pink pants.”

     “Yes, she was very modern. Also Frances told me she liked the purse that we gave her
as her birthday present.”

     “I'm happy to hear that, but I didn't like the way some of the girls were dressed with very short skirts and tight blouses. Also the very loud music and the lyrics of  the songs were not to my liking.”

     “I enjoyed the party, and that's the way all parties at school are.”

     That evening.

     “Julie, tell me about the birthday party at school.”

     “Well, Joan enjoyed a lot. She played with her friends and took part in the activities the mothers had prepared. Also the fruit punch, cake, ice cream and appetizers were very good. The cafeteria was very well-decorated, simulating a discotheque, and there were loud music and illumination effects. Jill and Barbara were very active in the organization of the party. I enjoyed talking with them and helping serve and control the children. Miss Thompson attended the activity. Some of the children danced, and all participated in the “Happy Birthday” song. It was a well supervised activity by the sponsoring mothers. What I found not good for Joan was the modern music, the disco simulation and the modern sensual style of dressing on some of the girls. I mentioned some of it to Barbara, and she told me that since that's the way they dress and the style of parties they attend, their activity was like that. In other words, if you want to be with us accept us as we are.”

     “Yes, but that way of thinking doesn't take into consideration what is best for the children and in the long run, to us parents also.”

     “Children growing up with that mentality become very selfish, and when they grow up, they act in a rebellious and disrespectful manner.”

     “I agree, Julie, that modern parent permissiveness fosters criminal behavior in teenagers and young adults.”

     “Now our problem is how to protect our children from the bad influence of good people which in some cases are our personal friends.”

     “Yes, it's certainly difficult. Jill and Barbara are good friends, and I would avoid as much as possible hurting their feelings.”

     “That's right, but it's obvious that we will have to exercise some closer supervision of the activities our children take part at school and elsewhere. I'll take Billy to the game.
I'll try to start earlier on Friday and finish my reports in time to be at school by 4:00. On Saturday I'll have to take Joan with us unless Laura could take care of her. Could you take them to the bus stop on Friday?”

     “Yes and I'll ask Laura to see if she is able to.”


     “Yes, Dad, I'm here.”

     “Billy, your mom and I have decided that I'll go to school tomorrow afternoon so that you may go to the basketball tournament and watch the game your friends will be playing.”

     “Thanks, Pop, I'll call Larry and Steve to tell them.”

     “Wait. Let's agree on a couple of details.  Tomorrow I'll make arrangements to leave work at 3:00. With the heavy traffic at that time, I should be at school around 3:45. I'll meet you in front of the gym. We will watch the game, and in case your team wins we will plan to go to the final game on Saturday.”

     “Fine, Dad, but if our team looses. Could we still go on Saturday?  Larry and Steve will probably go even if their team doesn't play.”

     “No, Billy. I have lots of things to take care on Saturday. If your team wins on Friday, I'll postpone some of them to take you to the game, but otherwise we will stay at home. Remember that mother will be working on Saturday to compensate for the time she took today to go to school.”

     “Larry's father will be at the tournament; he helps the coach.”

     “No, Billy, if I cannot be there, I prefer that you don't go. Let's hope that your school team will win on Friday and also on Saturday.”

     “Ok, Dad.”

     “Hello, Son. Has the game started?”

     “No Dad, but the teams are already practicing.”

     “Traffic was heavier than I expected, so it took me a little longer to get to school.”

     “Let's go in, Dad.”

     “Yes, Billy. Hey, the noise is very loud. For tomorrow's game, remind me to bring earplugs for both of us.”

     “When the game starts, they turn off the music.”

     “Dad, let's seat on the bleachers behind our team's bench.”

     “Yes, look Larry and Steve are there.”

     “The game is about to start.”

     “Billy, our starting players are taller and somewhat stronger that the other team.”

     “We are going to win big, Dad.”

     After the first half finished.

     “Well, a six-point lead at half-time is good.”

     “Yes, but in the second half, we will dominate because they will get tired. Did you see the hit that Frank gave to their no. 12?”

     “Yes, the referee should have called a technical foul for unsportsmanship conduct. The purpose of the game is to play, not to injure the opponent. Let's go outside and buy something to eat. The music is too loud.”

     At 5 min. to end the game.

     “Billy, you were right. Their team can keep the score close as long as their five starters stay on the court, but when they get tired, their substitutes are not as good as our substitutes. Our team has more depth. Oh, what's that!”

     “What's the referee doing?”

     “He's ejecting Frank for hitting on purpose.”

    “No! Stupid referee.”

     “No, Billy, he's only doing his job. If he had started before, Frank would have been out by this time on five personal fouls.”

     “Look, the coach is sending in Larry to play.”

     “Yes, that might mean he's going with a smaller team that can run the court better since he will no longer dominate the rebounds.”

     “We're going to win, Dad.”

     “Probably, but don't be so sure yet. Four points are two ball possessions, and there are still 14 seconds. It's not impossible to tie or even win.”

     “Look at how that guy hit Larry, and they didn't eject him.”

     “His team needs to foul; they cannot allow Larry to spend time dribbling the ball. His intention was not to cause injury.”

     “Larry made both free throws, now we will win for sure.”


     “We won! Larry is a hero. I'll go to the court to congratulate them.”

     “Ok, Billy. I'll congratulate the coach and Larry's father.”

     “Congratulations, coach. It was a hard-earned victory. I'm William Anderson. My son, Billy, is a friend of Larry and Steve.”

     “Thanks, Mr. Anderson. Are you coming tomorrow?”

     “Yes, we plan to.”

     “It was a pleasure to meet you. See you tomorrow.”  

     “Billy, which team plays against our school's tomorrow?”

     “Springfield Intermediate School, Dad.”

     “That's a big school. It probably has a good team. It will be a close game.”

     “Yes, they won the first game today by 14 points.”

     “Billy, something that worries me is the foul language used by the students in the bleachers. I know we can't avoid hearing those bad words, but we don't ever use that type of language.”

     “Yes, Dad. Some of the parents were using bad language, too.”

     “I noticed that. But you didn't hear me talking like that. So you are not to use that kind of language.”

     That afternoon when Bill and Billy arrived at home.

     “Mom, our team won. The final game is tomorrow!”

     “I'm happy for you. Hi, darling.”

     “It was a good game, Julie. Did you talk to Laura about the possibility of taking care of Joan tomorrow?”

     “Yes, I talked with her, but she can't. They are going to repair the fences of their property. But Dad is willing to go with you to the game and help you watch Joan.”

     “Great, that's a very good idea. I'll call him to thank him and tell him to be ready at 8:15.”

…..Next day.

     “Joan, what do you want to do while your father and brother go to the game.”

     “Grandpa, we can go to the playground. Some of my friends will be at school today, and we can meet them there.”

     “Billy and I will be in the gym. When you want to eat something, the sponsor class is selling food in the gym. I'll look for you during the half-time intermission.”

     “Let's go, Dad; the game is going to start soon.”

     “Yes, let's go.”

     “There's a lot of fans. I didn't expect so many people at this game.”

     “Springfield is a big school so there are a good number of fans from there. Look, Dad, there are Larry and Steve parents. Let's sit close to them.”

     “Yes, Billy.”

     “Hi, Bill and Billy, come here. There's seat for you here.”

     “Bill, these are Earl and Linda Ford, Ernie and Martha Bennett, and John Norton.”

     “I'm pleased to meet you folks.”

     “Billy, that team has players as tall as our players, and they look to have good ball handling. It should be a good game.”

     “Yes. Look Dad, Larry is not in the starting lineup.”

     “Don't worry; he's going to play a lot. After his good game of yesterday, the coach prefers to use him out of the bench.”

     After five minutes of play.

     “Billy, who is number 11?”

     “Eddie Norton, you met his father.”

     “He's playing well, rebounding, passing and also blocking the opponent out of the boards. He's a good team player.”

     “Still we are 6 points behind. Look; number 7 hit Eddie.”

     “Yes, the referee did well in calling a foul. The coach is bringing in Larry to play.”

     At half-time intermission.

     “Dad, an eight point difference at half-time is not bad. We can caught them in the second half.”

     “Yes, we're in good shape. Larry and Eddie combined together very well and added the team speed that was needed to keep the score close. Come, Billy, let's look for Joan and Grandpa during the intermission.”

     “Let's go to the playground; we don't have much time.”

     “How are things over here, Mark?”

     “Fine, Bill. Joan is enjoying herself with those three friends she's met.”

     “One of them is her classmate.”

     “Yes, Billy. The other two are from Springfield. Those ladies are their mothers, and how about the game?”

     “It's very good, Grandpa. We're just eight points behind, but we'll catch up.

     “Yes, Mark. It's been a close game.”

     “Let's go to the gym, Dad. The second half should be starting soon.”

     “The players are getting ready to start, but the music is so loud.”

     “Look, Dad, Larry will start playing in the second half.”

     “Yes, Eddie is also on the starting lineup. They work well together on the court.”

     05:00 - 3rd quarter

     “Frank and their number 5 have been throwing elbows at each other several times.”

     “That's part of the game, Dad.”

    “Not necessarily, but if the referee doesn't call anything, it could develop into a fight.”

     02:30 - 3rd quarter

     “Great, now we are only 2 points behind.”

     “Hey, watch out. That was a very hard foul.”

     “They are fighting, Let's go, Dad.”

     “No, Billy, the referees and the coaches are the ones that are to intervene in fights.”

     “But look. Larry's father and Frank's father are discussing with parents from the other school.”

     “Yes, but that's not right because it may lead to further discussions or fights.”

     “What is the referee calling?”

     “A foul to player number 11 of their team for hitting Frank and a technical foul to our team for parents entering the area of play.”

     “Frank will shoot two free throws, and their appointed player will shoot the technical foul. Then they will put the ball in play.”

     “Oh, Frank missed the second throw. Number 3 is a good shooter; he made the technical.”

     “That's a three-pointer. Now we are five points behind. The technical foul cost us four points.”

     At the end of the third quarter, Springfield was three points ahead. The fans of both teams were shouting at each other.

     At 4:00 remaining on the 4th quarter.

     “That's the fourth foul on their number 3.”

     “Yes, Billy. That's their best scorer. Now their coach has an important decision to make.”

     At this moment, some of the Springfield fans got near the play area and spoke to one of the referees.

     “Look, Dad, that man is arguing with the referee.”

     “Yes, they are stopping the game. These parents are too emotionally involved in the game.”

     “The referee is calling a technical foul on their team.”

Larry made the free throw and the game was even at 3:35 remaining. At 2:21, with the local team ahead by one point, Eddie made a drive to the basket and received a very hard foul by number 7. Frank attacked the player that hit Eddie and a fight between players occurred. Fans from both groups entered the court, and they were shouting insults and shoving amongst themselves.

     “Let's go down there, Dad. They are fighting.”

     “No, Billy, that wouldn't help fixing the situation, and besides we could get hurt.”

     “But, Dad, I want to defend my friends.”

     “No, the best way to defend them is to help restore order.”

     When the game resumed, Eddie made one of the free throws and the Springfield player made the technical foul due to Frank's ejection. The local team was ahead by one point. The teams continued to exchange baskets and the fans exercised some self-restrain, so no further incidents except for an occasional vulgar or insulting shout.

     The game was tied with 20 seconds to finish. Springfield missed a shot; Steve got the rebound and passed to Larry, who made an assist to Eddie on a fast-break basket. As Springfield was to inbound, Larry intercepted and drove in for a lay-up. So with four seconds remaining, they were ahead by four points.”

     “We won!”

     “Congratulations, Billy. It was a great game.”

     “Let's go to meet Larry, Steve and the rest.”


     “Congratulations, coach; it was a well-coached game.”

     “Thanks, Mr. Anderson.”

     After the game at the playground.

     “Joan, you played a lot with your friends?”

     “Yes dad, Kate's brother plays on the team. Teresa and Jane are from Springfield school. We played a lot. Grandpa brought us sandwiches and juice.”

     “Yes, Bill, we had fun, and how was the game? I heard lots of shouting.”

     “It was a good game. It was decided in the lasts seconds of play. As Billy says, Larry with his speed, very good ball handling and defense made a great contribution. He could develop into a good player; he's only in 7th grade. Eddie is also a very intelligent and unselfish player. Frank is tall and works hard under the boards.”

     “Grandpa, there was a fight between Frank and their center. Also there were two arguments between parents of both teams.”

     “The mother of one of the girls told her that her brother and father were involved in a fight. That's why she took her before the end of the game.”

     “Yes, Mark, the problem of violence at school events is serious. The very loud music, parents and students shouting vulgar and obscene expressions, inciting the players to hit the opponent and then involving themselves in the game's actions is a very bad situation.”

     “The lack of self discipline in adults is rapidly reflecting in student behavior at schools. And not only at school, in society in general.”

     Arriving at Mark's house.

     “Dad, next year I'll be in 7th grade. You think I'll be able to play on the team?”

     “Billy, we'll see when the time comes, but you don't have to wait till next year. You will play on the summer camp team and also on the Sunday school team at church. They play with other churches and Greg Burnside is the basketball team's organizer. He was a good player at the university and he'll make sure you learn correctly.”

     “But, Dad. Larry and Steve don't go to our church.”

     “Not now, but you can invite them.”

     “Will Mom be home when we get there?”

     “No, Joan. We will clean the house, so when she arrives, she won't have so many things to do.”

     “Thanks for your great help, Mark.”

     “It was a pleasure, Bill. Bye, Joan and Billy, see you tomorrow at church.”

     “Bye, Grandpa. Bye.”

     That evening.

     “Bill, yesterday we couldn't speak about the basketball tournament, tell me about it.”

     “Mark was a great help, Julie. He took care of Joan while I went to the game with Billy. In relation to the tournament, it was well-organized. The food they were selling was good. Both games were close, very interesting games. Billy enjoyed them a lot. His friend Larry had an outstanding participation in both games. His other friend, Steve, played well in both games. They were well-coached, and there were the advantages of team sports competition, like teamwork, strong physical effort, group recognition and encouragement. What I didn't like was the very loud music and the attitudes some of the parents and relatives assumed. They shouted vulgar expressions, incited the players to use violence, and, at one point had a confrontation with parents of the opposing school. The game had to be interrupted, but the referees handled it well.”

     “Bill, there was a similar situation in the Little Leagues last year.”

     “Yes, these attitudes are not exclusive of the school; it can be found in many competitive activities.”

     “How did Billy react?”

     “He was excited, but I calmed him by explaining how we have to behave in these situations. Since we are very concerned with the proper development of our children's character, let's discuss the school aspect. For example, the problem of violence at schools has become very serious. In various places, there have been incidents involving death of students, teachers and several seriously wounded. Today at the game, when I saw parents inciting their children to use violence and then involving themselves in arguments between them, I thought I wouldn't like Billy to grow up in such environment.”

     “This problem of violence and vulgarity in language and also in dressing is so common that we would have problems with some of our friends if we openly oppose this kind of behavior.”

     “Another aspect is that in modern music and dancing, vulgarity combines with the seeking of pleasure and money and becomes a good opportunity for the introduction of illegal drugs at school.”

     “On top of that, there's the situation of poor academic achievement, like the reading and writing difficulties that Joan and Billy are experiencing.”

     “We also need to foresee the situation that at a higher school level; there could be some courses or emphasis  which we will have to object to.”

     “Ok, let's agree that the school where we studied and where we met is no longer an acceptable formation alternative for Joan and Billy. But, what are our alternatives?”

     “The first alternative is one that we need to see how we can implement regardless of other alternatives available. That is to increase our supervision of school life and activities by increasing our presence at school and our participation at school activities.”

     “I agree that needs to be done, but the obvious difficulty is that we both work outside the home.”

     “Yes, we need to revise our goals more often to see how we can meet our financial priorities while taking good care of our family priorities, especially in the time management area. Meanwhile, your parents could help us in some occasions.”

     “Well, we know that Mom and Dad will be very pleased to give us an occasional help in situations of real need, so as they help us, they become aware of the truly needed nature of their help.”

     “I agree.”

     “Another alternative is to look for a private school.”

     “Yes, if it shares our religious beliefs, it could be a good alternative.”

     “At least for the first year, our supervision and involvement in the school will have to be as big or bigger than that which we will need at public school. Private schools are not necessarily better than public schools although frequently they are. But that needs to be verified. We would have to make a good reference investigation before deciding on such a change.”

     “What about the financial aspect? Private schools are expensive. I've heard of some at $400.00 to $500.00 per month. In our case, it would be between $800.00 and $1000.00. That would eat up your net salary, so you'd be working to pay for school only because that doesn't include uniforms, shoes, transportation, food, books, materials, special activities and sports. That alternative is for persons of higher income than us. The home schooling alternative is the best from the point of view of academic education, character building and also financially.”

     “Yes, but it requires a lot of personal sacrifice, self denial and work. To start, you will have to increase your earnings, or I'll have to find a way to earn money while at home, probably both. I would have to quit my job. Second, both of us would have to prepare to act as teachers and that takes lots of time and effort. Besides there are group activities, like sports, drama, music and birthday parties, that require a class group.”

     “You're right, Julie. You would have to leave your job, and both of us will have to make a very serious commitment. But today, the home schooling movement has advanced a lot. There are all kinds of teaching materials, and there are organizations that supply advice, materials and coordination of efforts between nearby home schooling families. There are also groups of home schooling parents that join together to share facilities with the cooperation of a church or other community organization that may have a building, computers, sports facilities, etc. If we start planning now, by September we might be able to start.”

    “That is true, Bill; even though it requires a lot of effort now. Also there are several important advantages in home schooling. It strengthens the family unit, and when children grow up, family ties will remain strong. It prevents the development of conflicting values and thus prevents teenage rebellion. There's a better management of time, now we have to be running up and down just to meet our daily commitments. Also there could be financial benefits in family activities with the additional time available.”

     “Yes, and also the social life of our children would be closely related to family life. Otherwise, kids would tend to develop social lives of their own influenced by school friendships and activities. Many kids get into lots of trouble this way and the parents are the last to know. And most of all, it provides the best way to fulfill our God-given responsibility of installing in our children's minds the obedience to God as the most important aspect in decision making.”

THE END       8/l7/04