by Mariann E. Danko
Even with a new year, some things never change. For me, it’s my struggle to wake my walker in the morning. As a matter of fact, the older he gets, the worse it gets. He is definitely cocooning in his new loft bed. In lieu of dynamite, I knew I had to find another tactic. Turns out that tactic came in the form of Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) from “The Walking Dead.” With the clock ticking away and my frustration building because my son wasn’t getting out of bed, I found myself standing at the bottom of the steps yelling “MOVE!!!!” as loud as I possibly could. After a week or so of this, I realized I sounded like Sgt. Abraham Ford from “The Walking Dead” Season Five opening episode. Once I made this connection it was all I needed to take it to the next level.
On the extremely tough mornings, I stand at my son’s bedroom door and in my best Sgt. Abraham Ford style voice and infliction I state “This is Sgt. Abraham Ford reporting for my new mission. It’s time to get up soldier. Don’t make me yell. Do I have to remind you what your job is?” By this point my son starts to groan and pleads with me to stop. The Sgt. informs him he will only stop when he gets up. He has a mission to complete and will be relentless until it is accomplished. My son gives in and gets up, slowly, but he still gets up. The Sgt. is fulfilled, his mission is completed, at least for that day.
I’ve found now that sometimes just the threat of sending in the Sgt. is enough to get my son moving. This made me wonder why a military style approach would have more impact than all the others? The only thing I could link this to was respect. In general, most military officers command respect just by their presence, so even though the Sargent in this situation is fictitious and Mom’s impersonating him, by ignoring his orders my son was being disrespectful. Granted, this could be a far fetched concept, my son could just find this so annoying it motivates him to move, but it made my mind meander to the topic of respect.
I think a lot of authority figures; parents, teachers, bosses, etc., just take for granted that their children, students, staff, will respect them. They believe respect comes with the position, but in reality it needs to be earned. This is something I think we all forget, especially as parents. Respect goes both ways, it’s not one sided. If you want to be respected you need to show respect. Screaming, yelling, berating and badgering, might get an immediate response, but in the long run, it breaks down the fabric of the relationship and certainly weakens or destroys any respect that exists. I see this happening as my son hits his teens. I’m getting the snarky, cocky and raised, almost yelling, tone from my son when he gets annoyed or frustrated by my questions or comments. When I get this response I pull the respect card, but recently it dawned on me that he’s just mimicking my response to him under the same circumstances. The key to nipping this type of response in the bud is to think twice before I raise my voice. I realize this is easier said then done, particularly on those heavy button-pushing days, but, if I want to retain a relationship of mutual respect with my son it is essential.
In general, when children are young, they hold all adults in high regard. They don’t second guess the authority figures actions or words. It’s not until their teens that they really start to examine authority figures behavior and see the chinks in that figures armour. Yes, they are human and not perfect, but, after years of believing they were it’s hard to face this fact, especially if that person is their parent. Fortunately for me my son is becoming more vocal with me about these type of things which has opened a line of dialogue about mutual respect. I hear things like “You always tell me not to cut you off when you’re speaking, but you constantly do it to me.” or “You get mad when I say I didn’t hear you, accusing me of intentionally ignoring you, but when you do it to me I’m just suppose to be OK with that.” It’s tough when your teenager actually makes sense and calls you on it. As the authority figure we sometimes forget we need to be accountable for our actions too.
This open dialogue got me to question my son about people he respected? Needless to say he said the entire cast of “The Walking Dead,” past and present. When I asked why, he said because they treat every fan like they were their only one. They hold them in high regard and appreciate them, knowing that if not for them they would not be where they were today. Their actions are a reflection of how they feel and in turn their fans hold them in high regard. It’s a mutual respect fest.
Speaking of a respect fest, for all non-walking dead fans, there is a real respect fest, it’s Walker Stalker Con (http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/ ) 7 of them throughout the USA. My son and I had the pleasure of attending the NY/NJ one in December. (Birthday/Christmas gift for my son and I.) We had a blast. Little did I know that our adventure would garner material for this months post. Our key focus of this trip was to meet Chandler Riggs, the actor who plays Carl Grimes, the teenage son of Rick Grimes. My son truly admires Chandler. He’s the same age, he plays video games, likes Pokemon and is on his favorite TV shows. In addition to getting his autograph, we purchased tickets for an after con event in which Chandler’s Dad’s band would play and his Mother would discuss Chandler’s career. We found out the Riggs family is very tight-knit and try to all travel together to most of Chandler’s appearances. The key thing I noticed was how respectful this young man was to both his parents, even when his Mother was showing pictures of him when he was very young. The bells and whistles went off in my head. Now I could take “What would Carl do?” one step further to “Would Chandler do that?” I no longer had to use a fictitious character to make a point, I could use the example set by this very respectful-to-his-parents actor. Needless to say I was one happy Momma.
Back to the TWD respect conversation I had with my son. I couldn’t help but take this one step further. I asked my son which characters on the show were respected by their fellow characters? He said he felt all of Rick Grime’s (Andrew Lincoln) gang respected each other, but some more so. I made him explain himself. He noted that he felt that Rick, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), Glenn Rhee (Steven Yuen) and even Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) were particularly respected because they all showed great leadership and trustworthy qualities. Even when Rick “took the train to crazy town” as Glenn put it, after Laurie died, the gang was concerned but didn’t loose respect. They knew he needed to work through his grief. The rest of them stepped up their game to compensate for his distraction. That’s a wonderful example of true mutual respect in action.
From here we explored the territory of those that weren’t respected. The top two in this category were Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and The Governor (David Morrissey). Merle was too self-absorbed and condescending to everyone to ever garner an ounce of genuine respect. Even his brother Daryl only took his side because they were blood. The Governor on the other hand, was a leader who believed he was respected, but, any actions that might have resembled respect on the part of his crew, were strictly out of fear. He ruled by threats, which, as I stated above, may get you the immediate result you desire, but it’s only for show. Deep down inside those followers would just as soon stab you in the back. If the ship was sinking they wouldn’t save you. All relationships need a strong foundation with mutual respect at it’s core. Without that, the relationship will quickly crumble at the first sign of trouble. Which in The Governor’s case is exactly what happened. As his true colors were revealed and his sanity unraveled after Michone (Danai Gurira) killed his walker daughter Penny, so did his stronghold on the town of Woodbury and it’s people. Unlike Rick’s gang who supported him in his time of need, The Governor’s clan wanted nothing to do with him. Everything he worked for eroded before his eyes. Woodbury fell and so did he.
In general my son and I have a strong foundation. The key to keeping it strong is to prevent any cracks we may have from getting larger and causing crumbling. In order to do this I need to be conscious of my behavior (and so does he) and remember respect goes both ways. The Sargent may be effective for the morning wake-up call, but beyond that it’s best to keep things on a lighter touch. With age comes maturity, at least I hope, and with maturity comes the opportunity to speak civilly, which means a discussion vs. an argument, which is always the best way to solve any problem. Although, when all else fails, I can mention how respectful Chandler Riggs is to his parents. That’s sure to at least make him pause and think, which will keep the dynamite from igniting.
© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2015. All rights reserved.
Photos Courtesy of AMC
Clip Art – 123RF Stock Photo
Mom nagging Son Copyright : Lorelyn Medina
Respect Icon Copyright : Attila Toro