What brought on all this philosophical discussion? Today ES got an Atta-Boy award from his teacher for telling on someone at school. What egregious criminal offense was his nefarious classmate committing that warranted reporting him to the teacher, you ask?
He was making a paper airplane in the boys' restroom.
I must have missed it, because I'm not exactly sure when making paper airplanes became illegal. Maybe I was on deployment when that proclamation came out. I certainly would have commended ES for telling on someone for smokin' or hazin' or vandalizin' in the boys' room... but making a paper airplane??? In my mind, he crossed that imaginary and poorly defined boundary between alerting the authorities of an unsafe condition and being a "tattle tale."
However (comma) I don't think he's mature enough yet to judge what's worthy of reporting to the authorities and what's not, so he may as well err conservatively, right? I don't want to discourage ES from reporting things that he thinks are wrong, unless of course he starts to make it a habit and does it just for the sake of getting attention from his teacher.
That raises another question though. Besides how to explain what a "tattle tale" is, at what age is a child old enough to understand the concept and be able to tell the difference between that and doing the right thing?
I also don't know all the circumstances. Certainly the other boy shouldn't have been making paper airplanes in the restroom if he should have been in class just at that moment, but if it was recess, then who cares? I tried getting this answer out of ES at dinner, but his answer wasn't clear to me. It had something to do with the other kid being in a different class and there are staggered recesses and it might have been that boy's recess time, but he didn't know. So I don't want ES to think it's necessarily okay to make paper airplanes in the restroom, either.
I suspect I'm over-analyzing and over-reacting to this, too. I have had an aversion to tattle tales since at least the 7th grade. That's when my little sister told on me for supposedly not doing the chore I was supposed to be doing and I got a walloping of a spanking for it. From her perspective, she was just having fun and liked telling on me to get me in trouble. It established a very deep-rooted distrust of her in my mind and we have never been close as a result.
So what say you, dear peanut gallery??? To tell? Or not to tell?