Dear Annie: The principal of the school where I teach has some big tattoos on her neck. She says they are Chinese symbols for “good fortune.” I think they look trashy. I don't mind tattoos, but I don't think large markings on one's hands and neck are appropriate for school. They don't convey authority, and I have a hard time taking orders from her.
The last time she entered my classroom, she pointed to a poster listing class rules and said she didn't like that it had torn edges. I gently said, “I'm sorry, but I've been preoccupied with my students' reading skills, math and grammar, so the torn edges will have to wait a bit.” She left the classroom looking uncomfortable.
The school security guards also have tattoos and not simply the names of their girlfriends or boyfriends. They picture playing cards, dice and other motifs that I consider more appropriate for a biker bar.
During the last parent-teacher conference, one parent exclaimed, “Did you recruit the security guards from the county jail?”
Why is it acceptable for teachers, court officers and other professionals to tattoo their hands and necks when it makes them look like street thugs? How do they expect kids to listen to them when they look like that? I warn my older pupils that visible tattoos may bar them from certain jobs. Most of them take my advice. The ones who don't are harder to place for summer internships.
Dear N.Y.: The proliferation of tattoos on the faces, hands and necks of professional sports players and TV reality stars makes this type of artwork seem more mainstream and acceptable.
But just as there are dress codes for businesses, there are also dress codes for schools. If the students are not permitted to show such visible tattoos, neither should the administration and security personnel, who presumably set the example. If you believe this undermines the principal's authority, you can register a complaint with the school board.
Dear Annie: I am 12 years old and carpool to a gymnastics class with “Alice,” who is two years older. For a long time, we were decent friends and had good times. But last year, Alice got a phone and stopped talking to me. She is always texting.
I have tried so hard to get Alice to talk to me. I have brought games and joke books, but, Annie, it's been going on for so long, I'm not sure I want to be friends anymore. The main problem is, when we arrive at gymnastics, none of the other girls talk to me, only Alice. So now I don't have anyone.
I don't know why Alice treats me this way. Is she angry or jealous? Should I give her a second chance?
Our moms our friends, and we'll probably be carpooling for a long time.
-- Hurt and Wondering
Dear Hurt: We don't think Alice is angry, jealous or anything else. We think she is 14 years old and has a new phone. Like many kids, she wants to text more than she wants to talk. Also, now that she is a teenager, she may be less inclined to be so tight with a 12-year-old, even if she likes you. You can try to engage her by asking her to show you the features on her phone, but really, your best bet is to work on forming friendships with the other girls in gymnastics. Please try.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Tired of 'Go See a Counselor'” displayed ignorance. You give excellent advice. “Go See” must not understand that some problems are too complicated to explain in a couple of paragraphs. A counselor may spend several sessions with someone to determine the best advice. It's like a family doctor who advises a patient with chest pains to see a cardiologist.
-- Denham Springs, La.
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