Intercultural Responsiveness
A Blog By Tom Altepeter


As I watched my daughter handed over to her mother so soon after her adenotonsillectomy, I looked at my wife with eyes of assurance that the reaction from her daughter was completely normal. Watching a seemingly helpless child held by a seemingly helpless mother is enough to make one feel significantly less than sure. I was certain it was the right thing to do, considering my little girl was struggling so much with sleeping with her kissing tonsils causing her to snore in ways rivaled only by her father. Still, an anaesthetised child recovering from even what’s considered a minor surgery was enough to make me question the doctor.

Elimination is a seemingly simple fix to complex problems.

And I watch as teachers work harder and harder at what they believe in, even as they are burdened with so much because others don’t believe in them. A love for making a difference in the lives of young people becomes lost in constant waves of crushing force. Drowning with uncertainty, educators want to cut things out simply to survive. Administrators are pressured more and more, attempt to shelter teachers more and more, and realize more and more that we just need to look into eliminating more and more. And it’s so much more complicated than that.

And I grow angry when a parent tells me I should know better than to treat her child as she thinks I did because, “I’m a grown ass man.” Yes, I think, I believe I am. And, if you’d simply take a moment to recognize and appreciate how much I continue to work so patiently with your child, day after day after day, even as your child makes poor choices supported by your seemingly endless enabling, perhaps you’d actually treat me as a “grown ass man.” So, I want to just avoid the interactions that will absolutely present themselves in the future. And it’s so much more complicated than that.

And the bullying is everywhere. As the adults throw up their hands and roll their eyes at all the kids making poor choices with their phones, with their computers, and with their voices and their actions, we want to just get rid of it all. We want to just kick the kids out of school. We want to eliminate the problems. And we do it while participating ourselves in the very behavior we think we’ve outgrown. Maybe as bystanders, maybe as observers, maybe just as little side commentators egging it on with our self-righteous attitudes. But, we do it – We bully one another – Constantly. And it’s so much more complicated than that.

I’m not doubting the adenoids and the tonsils should have been removed. But, I am accepting the fact that the decision came with consequences. The seemingly simple fix is never simple. Perhaps the decisions we make don’t always necessitate the need to attempt to eliminate the concern. I wonder if we should spend more time understanding how we do more by figuring out how to do better. I wonder if we should make less assumptions about one another, and spend more time connecting with one another and working together to grow. I wonder if we should stop pretending that the problem isn’t relationships between young people, but rather relationships among us all.

And it can get better, and it will get better, but only if we do better.

3 Responses to “Ectomy”

  • Kathy Mayer says:

    Oh, boy. So much to contemplate. And worded so we well so we can. Thank you, Tom.

  • Beautiful. Deep. Contemplative. That’s why I love reading what you write.

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