Your Mother Was Wrong

Author’s Note: This column was reposted by reader request. It was originally posted on www.TownHall.com in April of 2006.

Good morning students! It’s good to see you this morning – although you are probably perplexed that I’ve called together only a dozen of you for this special study session. Please be patient, I only have a few things to say before I give you a special assignment that should make your semester much easier.

As most of you can tell, I love teaching. About 85% of my students are wonderful. They keep me energized and eager to teach even the classes I have taught dozens of times. But then there are the 15% of students that make my job unnecessarily difficult. Unfortunately, these students are a real pain in the backside. But, fortunately, I have gathered all of them together today. Look around the room. You are all part of that 15% of annoying students.

First of all, sir, – yes, you in the green shirt with the marijuana leaf – I would like to tell you how you made it into this elite congregation. Earlier in the semester, I asked you to stop bringing an MP3 player into my class during test periods. But, last week during another exam you did it again. And I’ve finally figured out why.

It seems that when you were a little boy your mother told you that you were special. Although you believed her, your mother was wrong. You’re not special. You’re just the same as everyone else. That’s why you have to play by the same rules as everyone else. And that’s why you’re here today.

Don’t laugh, ma’am. I want to tell you why you’re here this morning. I asked you previously this semester to refrain from interrupting our review sessions by badgering me with questions about what will or will not be on the test. I can’t tell you what’s going to be on the test any more than I can issue you a copy of the exam beforehand. I’ve finally figured out why you are wholly unconcerned with my assertion that you are wasting valuable class time with your inane remarks.

It appears that when you were a little girl your mother told you that you were special. Although you believed her, your mother was wrong. You’re not special. In fact, you’re just the same as everyone else. That’s why you have to play by the rules I establish. And that’s why you’re here today.

And you, sir, have been instructed previously to bring something to write with (pencil or pen) to the examinations. But the fact that you came to the realization that your pencil has never been sharpened several minutes into the test period poses problems. Whether you actually get up to sharpen the pencil during the exam or shout “hey, dude, do you have a pencil?” you are bound to annoy the crap out of others. But your recidivism indicates that you inadequately assess the degree to which you annoy others, including me. And I think I know why you do that.

Like so many others, it appears that when you were a little boy your mother told you that you were special. Like these other people you believed what mommy said, although she was wrong. You’re not special, either. In fact, you’re just the same as everyone else. That’s why you have to play by the rules of what we call “civilization.” And that’s why you’re here today.

Rather than belabor the obvious point that all of you must surely be grasping by now, I would like to propose this solution: I want you to stop acting like you’re special. I want you to start acting more like me. Specifically, I want you to take up my new hobby of letting others know that they are not special. And I want you to start doing it immediately for extra credit in this class.

It may seem like a daunting task but once you get started you’ll probably change your mind. In fact, unless you’ve given it some thought, you probably don’t realize how many opportunities you’ll have in a single day to let someone know how truly un-special they really are. Just yesterday, on my way back from Birmingham, I had numerous opportunities in only a few short hours. For example:

*A man sitting next to me on the plane to Charlotte refused to turn off his cell phone after the airline attendant told him to do so. Sure, it was annoying. But it gave me an excellent opportunity to remind him that he wasn’t special.

*A kid sitting next to me in the café in Charlotte beat his plate with a fork and yelled at the top of his lungs for about half an hour. It sure was annoying until I realized it was a good chance to remind him that he wasn’t as special as his mother had told him. Sure, his mother was sitting right next to him. But she was too drunk to raise an objection. And who could blame her for drinking after giving birth to a monster like that?

*A guy nearly knocked me down in a mad rush to get his bag off the conveyer belt. I told him to be careful because he might knock the safety off of my concealed 45 Auto. He didn’t get the joke, largely because he didn’t speak English. That gave me an excellent opportunity to remind him that he wasn’t mucho especial.

I hope that you will all trust that this assignment is for your own good. For starters, you will earn back a point on your average for every time you disabuse a person of the notion that they are special. Furthermore, by changing your behavior (of tolerance) towards others who think they are special, I think we can also help you develop a healthier attitude (of intolerance) towards those who are a drain upon the society.

If there is any aspect of this assignment that you find objectionable or that makes you feel uncomfortable, please feel free to let me know. In fact, just have your mother give me a call. I’d like to have a talk with her soon.

5 thoughts on “Your Mother Was Wrong”

  1. Hi Doc! I have cherished this column and kept a dog-eared copy of it since it’s original publication. You will be pleased to know that I have quoted it often, and actually was removed from a high level management position within the living hell otherwise known as NC Div. Prisons, under “investigation” for using not only my favorite line, “His mother was wrong”, but also classifying the convicts as “2 digit IQs” as well as categorizing “85 as the new 100”. I gleefully refused to ride a desk at the expense of the taxpayer, ran out all my leave time and then retired to my life of leisure while my persecutors are still trapped in hell. I thank God for you Dr. Adams!

  2. I’d like to think that all these “special” students dropped the “I’m Special” attitude, but more likely they dropped the class. Human nature is what it is, most of us wear the same spots we were born with throughout life. But I sure would have liked to be a fly on the wall in that class. Nice job Mike.

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