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Bless You and Bless You and Bless You

Updated on August 21, 2014
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Mom. Homeschooler. Editor. Wife. These are a few words to describe notyouraverageal. Her life is anything but average.

Suspended for Saying, "Bless You."

Yesterday, on the news, I saw a story about a girl in Tennessee who was suspended for saying, “Bless you,” to someone who sneezed in class. A few thoughts crossed my mind when I heard about this, and I felt the need to share. Typically, believe it or not, I refrain from sharing my opinions about current events, mostly because I don’t like to debate. (And that’s not because I’m afraid of an argument. It’s because I know I won’t change your mind, and you can’t change mine. What’s the purpose of wasting time?) In this case, however, I felt the need to say it, and it’s my blog, so I can do what I want. Really, I had been formulating a blog for a while about the subject of saying, “Bless you,” so this ridiculous story came at a good time for me. (Thanks, kid in Tennessee, for showing common courtesy….You gave me something to write about!)

She's Got the Power!

A few things crossed my mind when I heard this story. First, how did this teacher get that much power? The typical story of today’s time is teachers putting up with all kinds of disrespect in the classroom because no one will back them. Principals are hesitant to punish kids because the parents freak out when they do. Of course, it can’t be that little Johnny or precious Suzie was being disrespectful and deserves discipline. Oh, but no. It’s always the teacher’s fault. Or maybe it was the water from the water fountain or the quality of the air. Maybe the lunchroom did not serve a proper nutritional meal. In many cases, kids are getting away with much more than they should because the adults won’t step up and do something about it. So, that leads me back to my question: How did this teacher have enough power to get this kid suspended for saying, “Bless you,” when someone sneezed? She must be somebody pretty important.

Was the Principal Thinking At All?

From there, my mind jumped to the principal of the school. What in the world was this principal thinking? Maybe he or she had not been recognized in a while and went on the belief that bad attention was better than no attention at all. I mean, seriously? Does the principal not watch the news? How did he or she possibly think this was going to end well for the school’s reputation? Why in the world would a principal go along with this suspension instead of telling the teacher she was crazy and moving the poor kid to another classroom?

To Bless or Not to Bless

Do you say, "Bless you," when someone sneezes?

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What a World It Will Be

Finally, I began to ponder what kind of world we live in. Last I checked, blessing someone is not even really a Christian custom. I mean, of course, we don’t want Christianity in our schools – you know, the public schools funded by the government that is “One nation under God.” Oh, no. Can’t have God there. But, “bless you,” is not a Biblical teaching. The origin is actually unknown, but many think it was a way of trying to remove an evil spirit from the person who sneezed. Apparently, back in the day, they believed a sneeze was a sign of a demonic possession. (Somebody might want to check on the kid who was blessed in Tennessee, by the way.) So, why can’t we say, “Bless you” whenever we want to? I’m rebellious enough toward society that I might just start a movement in the country (as if anyone would listen to me and follow me. HA!). Let’s all start blessing everyone in every situation, sneeze or not.

"No One Blesses Me"

The original reason I actually considered talking about blessing people in the first place is because of something my daughter, the Goose, said to me when she was 5 years old. Yes, it’s true. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, but I can remember what the kid said back then. I remember it because it hurt my heart.

I have homeschooled my kids all the way through their education. However, after I survived teaching the Beetle to read, I decided I just could not do it with the Goose. I wanted her to go to school to at least get a foundation for reading. Besides that, she really, really wanted to go to school, and I did not want to hold her back from that. So, for kindergarten, the Goose went to school. It was a school at a Baptist church near us. The whole time the Goose was there, there was just something lacking. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but we just never felt connected. For instance, one day, we ran into the Goose’s teacher in the store, and my daughter was hesitant to go speak to her teacher. I know, back when I was teaching preschool, the kids from my class would run up and hug me if they saw me in public. In this case, however, the Goose stayed by me and said she did not want to go talk to her. I did not think that was a very good sign.

Other signs like that continued during the year, and then one day, the Goose said something that hit me. We were driving home from school, and the Goose sneezed. I blessed her, as I do for anyone who sneezes. She said, “Thank you,” as is customary when someone blesses you. Then, the Goose thought for a second and said, “You know, mama, when I’m at school, no one blesses me.” I sat for a second and thought about what she had just said. I asked her to explain herself. She said when she sneezed, there was silence, and no one said, “Bless you.” This bothered me to my very core.

I tried to talk myself out of being bothered. I mean, after all, there’s no rule that says you have to bless someone when they sneeze. It was okay that her teacher did not. As the year went on, though, my sweet Goose’s voice would echo in my head, “No one blesses me.”

The Goose finished out the year in school. Toward the end, we actually had to force her to go each day. I think it’s because she just never found a connection with the teacher. When first grade started, she was back home with me, as we had intended.

The Goose’s words have stuck with me all these years, because what she said told me something. It told me there was no concern or courtesy in the school she went to. Something as simple as saying, “Bless you,” can help create a nurturing and loving environment. Something as simple as not saying it can do just the opposite.

So, as I heard this story of the Tennessee girl who was suspended, I felt sad. I wasn’t sad that God was not allowed in the school there. That’s partly because I know God is there whether the authorities of the school like it or not. It’s also partly because I’m not a big supporter of public schools attempting to teach about God. I won’t go into my opinions about that as I’m sure it would cause a debate. I will say, though, if they are struggling to teach the basics, I don’t particularly want them to attempt to teach salvation. On the flip side, though, I’ll also say I don’t have children in public school, so I guess I don’t have much right to an opinion there.

A Side Note

Just know that I don't know all the details of this story. It is quite likely there was more involved than just the girl innocently saying, "Bless you." This could have been the last straw on a string of disrespectful acts by the student. I don't know. Therefore, I am not claiming to back this child's motives.

My point in what I have written is to look at the big picture of the situation. A world without common courtesy is a scary world, indeed. If you don't believe me, go walk through the hallways of any public high school when the bell rings. Courtesy has been all-but-dead there for decades. Let me know if that's how you want the whole world to be.

And Bless You Too!

It wasn’t the lack of Christian values in the school that made me sad. It was the lack of concern for others and common courtesy. What kind of world will it be if we don’t allow our kids to express concern for others? Whether we express that concern because we think they have a demon inside them or whether it’s just a nice thing to do, “Bless you,” is a good thing. I don’t want to see it removed from our society. I want to be blessed.

So today, I say, “Bless you,” and “Bless you,” and “Bless you.” Bless that teacher in Tennessee. Bless you all, whether you sneeze or not. Now, go forth and bless others so we can have maintain decency and kindness in our world.


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      4 years ago

      BLESS YOU Al!

      I spend a large portion of each school year teaching students that making eye contact, using manners and common courtesy are just as important as learning the usual subjects. So far, I haven't had to teach them to say "bless you" because they have already learned that at home. The little ones are the cutest; If one is sad or crying, they are so quick to pat them on the arm and try to cheer them up and the echoing "bless you" fills the room after each sneeze.

      Love your writing, keep it coming.


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