Learn to deal with annoyances in mature way

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

caged animals were in Ms. Bell&8217;s room at around 2:30 Friday afternoon &8212; aggressive, aggravated, annoyed animals.

The &8220;animals&8221; were about to be set free from their cage for a four-day weekend (spring break), and they couldn&8217;t chew through the bars soon enough.

I was only in the cage for a short amount of time, really, but I witnessed enough bickering to last a lifetime.

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I arrived minutes after someone had been sent to the office for fighting over a marble.

I stayed long enough to be teleported back to my childhood playground days.

&8220;That&8217;s my name, don&8217;t wear it out,&8221; rang out over the pre-dismissal noise as one of the fourth-graders unleashed the classic kid saying on another.

Remember saying things like that? Remember being on the receiving end?

I know you are, but what am I? I&8217;m rubber, you&8217;re glue; whatever you say bounces of me and sticks to you. Or, my personal favorite: your momma.

These sayings (hopefully) don&8217;t survive in the adult world. (You can try it on your boss if you want, but I&8217;m not endorsing it.)

We grew up and grew out of that style of bickering.

But just because adults don&8217;t do it doesn&8217;t mean they don&8217;t want to.

Some kid sayings are good-natured teasing, or just silly things to say, &8212; hey is for horses &8212; but most of them are defense mechanisms.

Someone&8217;s pushing them too far, invading their space or just getting under their skin.

They want to be left alone and have it their way.

Maybe another kid has struck bull&8217;s-eye on an insecurity.

The easy defense is to try and make the other person feel worse than you do.

Underdeveloped wittiness (and that guy from &8220;Welcome Back, Kotter&8221;) comes back with things like &8220;up your nose with a rubber hose.&8221;

It probably does little to the person you are saying it to, but maybe it makes you feel like you&8217;ve done something to stand up for yourself.

And maybe it makes you look better in front of the playground crowd.

We adults have reached an extreme level of maturity that makes us too good for all this childhood nonsense, though.

(It would be appropriate for you to scream &8220;liar, liar pants on fire&8221; at me now.&8221;)

In fact, our comebacks have grown up with us, and often their vileness has increased.

We don&8217;t necessarily even verbally defend ourselves anymore. (Though sometimes we do.)

More often, we hold a grudge, store up material and whip it out at an inopportune time for the other person.

Maybe we just talk behind their back. Maybe we rally the troops on our side. Sometimes we go over their heads.

And sometimes we just absorb things that would be better dealt with openly.

The only thing we&8217;ve learned over the years is to choose our wording a little more carefully.

Life has a lot of cages. People living and working shoulder to shoulder get aggressive, aggravated and annoyed. It happens to all of us, and it&8217;s our nature to react poorly.

The only thing that can set us apart is the desire to step back, grow up and deal with whatever has invaded our comfort zones.

But if you&8217;d rather not worry with all that, I recommend going with &8220;You&8217;re dumb, and so is your face.&8221;

Julie Finley is the education reporter for The Natchez Democrat. She writes a weekly column based on experiences with Marty Tuccio&8217;s homeroom class at McLaurin Elementary. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or