Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kids These Days

I had a lengthy chat with my mom today.  She's at summer camp right now.  Okay, well she's a counselor at an archaeological dig/camp thingie in the 4 Corners region of Colorado.  She does it every year.  So, with the time difference, while her kids are in "class" we chat about the world and such.

Today we got on the subject of kids these days.  You know "kids these days."  Sadly, so many of them are what society years back referred to as "assholes."

Yep, I said it.  I called your kid an asshole.  Unless you're kid's not an asshole, in which case you're sitting there shaking your head in agreement.

Here's what I remember from my childhood:

When at someone's house, you do not ask for a drink, snack, etc, you wait until such things are offered.  If they are not offered, you get a swig of water out of the sink in the bathroom and wait until you leave to eat something.  (This rule applies to parents in that you do not take your children somewhere during mealtime and expect someone else to feed your kid.)

When you get in trouble at school, you do not blame it on the teacher or anyone else.  You listen to your teacher and parents and learn from your mistake. Even if that mistake was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This is a life lesson and may keep you out of jail when you get older and chargeable. You don't argue. When did kids decide it was okay to argue with their parents?   (This rule applies to parents in that if your child gets in trouble at school, you don't immediately question the teacher's authority. Remember back when people respected teachers? Let's go back to that.  Also, think of teachers like this:  would you operate on your self if you needed surgery?  No, you'd call a professional.  Would you represent yourself if you were charged with murder, No, you'd call a professional.  Teachers are professionals, too.  Let them do their job.)

The world does not revolve around you.  Sure you're special and all, but that doesn't mean special privileges.  You are one part of a larger family.  You are one student in a class of 27.  You have a role to play but you don't get to run the show.  When you decide that you "deserve" something, you stop actually working for it and start expecting it.  Don't do that.  You don't deserve anything.  When you work hard, you will see an appropriate return for your effort.  The world will not be presented to you on a silver platter.

Sometimes you're going to do something bad.  You're going to hit someone, you're going to push someone, you're going to act out.  You're a kid.  It happens.  You will not be coddled.  You will get into trouble.  No one will ask how you felt at the moment of the incident.  No one cares if you were tired, or hangry(hungry-angry), etc.  You will accept your punishment and learn from your mistake.  Excuses will not be made.  Mistakes are meant to be learned from, but if actions are constantly dismissed or justified, you can't learn.  Kids see the world in black and white.  Giving them gray areas just confuses them. So, pushing is always wrong even if you're tired.  Kicking is always wrong even if you need a snack. Etc. (I am actively working on this one with Claire.  It's so easy to say, well, she's really tired/hungry, whatever.  That doesn't make it okay.  It also means that I need to be a good enough parent to realize my child needs to go home and take a nap or go to bed.)

So, based on all of these things I remember from my childhood I'm trying to raise my girls to have a moral compass.  One that doesn't include caveats or exceptions.  We will teach them to love everyone, not just some people who look like us or love like us.  We will teach them that success is only achieved through hard work.  We will teach them that being polite is incredibly important to becoming a productive member of society.  We will also teach them to stand up for what the believe in, even if they are standing alone.  That one's pretty tough when popularity is so important.  So, we will teach them to value themselves in ways that are not measured by one's popularity.

I look back at the 1950s and think, yeah, I think I'd go back there if my kids could grow up like my parents did.  I'd even take the corsetted undergarments that women burned in 1965, just to buy a pair of Spanx in 2012.

They were simpler times.  I like simple.  I like the idea of families spending evenings on the porch, not in front of the TV.  I like the idea that if someone wanted to get in touch with you they could send a letter or phone you or (shock) go to your house and speak to you in person (weird, I know).  Patience was a virtue and a necessity.  Foods were still made with real ingredients and families enjoyed them together.  Sure, I may have a very rose-colored-glasses view of the era, but I don't know what's worse:  today's false gender and racial equality or 1950's very honest struggles with both.  I wasn't there.  All I know is that what I see now is unacceptable.

It has become apparent in my house where the root of the TV problem is stemming at this point.  His name is Daddy and he is obsessed with all things sports.  I'm contemplating an intervention.  Wish me luck.

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