Thursday, August 08, 2013

Fuddy Duddies and the Gift of Entitlement

Fuddy duddy  is not ever how I would have thought to describe myself. Buy apparently that has happened, and I am not sure it’s a bad thing.  There was a surprising article in the New York Post (yes, we read the Post,  but that’s been acknowledged in previous blobs), that discussed summer camp pictures. Kids can’t have cell phones at camp but they can post pictures for their parents to see. Parents study these pictures to make sure their kids are having fun.  They look at expressions, body language and God knows what else to determine that camp is “fun for their little darlings.”  And this is merely reflective of an ongoing pervasive entitled attempt to make life easy/fun/without struggle, for this next generation.

The consequences (with some exceptions) can be seen everyday in simple ways. On the subway, no one gets up to give an elderly or infirmed rider a seat. They don’t wait for a subway rider to get off, (I am sometimes guilty but unaware of this), before they push their way on.  Kids would just as soon slam a door in your face, as wait for a minute to hold it open.  Nor will they move to one side of the sidewalk to share space.  Some people would call this just learning good manners, but it goes beyond that. The ability to share, to recognize that hard work, a struggle, not always having a good time, as well as learning to make independent decisions while understanding, that even simple decisions have consequences that may impact on other people, a respecting another individuals space, are elements of character building  (I’ll get back to the exception). 

When we lived in Virginia new parents would block the streets so their kids could play without interruption of cars.  It didn’t matter that there was a park a block away.  They felt they were entitled to do close a public street, so the kids could have fun without the parents being inconvenienced.

The other day I was waiting for a train and a young woman sitting right next to me was listening to music on her cell--without ear phones.  It was loud and horrible music, but she was enjoying it and expecting everyone around her to enjoy it as well.  So I asked her if she had earphones.  She said, “why”?.  I said, “because other people might be distracted by it.”  She got up and moved, but kept on listening.

We are like so many parents.  We never wanted our children to struggle. We always wanted them to be happy.  And we thought that if we gave them excessive help it would make things better.  Probably we were wrong.  They are wonderful talented children, and we are grateful for who they are. ... we did the same as millions of other people -- which does not mean it was the right or wrong path to follow. It just Was....

My lifelong friend Joyce, never made it easy for her kids.  If they wanted something, they had to work for it. There was no coddling. Not that the kids weren’t loved. Nor did she want them to be miserable. But whether it was a TV, a car (or insuring it), or clothing, they bought it themselves. They never knew anything else. Now  they are both adults, with strong character and an understanding of what it means to work hard and find success on one’s own.   They are the exception. As are adults and children whose parents (usually blue collar and lower middle class), never thought about making life “easy” for the next generation.   These folks wanted their kids to be tough and understand how sweet success could be when you earned it.

Listen, sometimes I’m just grumpy about stuff, and unlike my mother, I am not nice to strangers.  Random shootings, defacing property, no clue about how annoying it is to have to listen to another person’s cell conversation, Congressional stupidity, inability to look someone in the eye and have an actual conversation, as opposed to a text or e-mail.....  Those are little things.  But I would like to think that this country is not going down the tubes because us old fuddy duddy duddies didn’t speak up and express our outrage.  We’re just sayin’… Iris

1 comment:

sacramennah said...

Interesting observations, Iris. I gather from your descriptions and pictures that you reside in a major urban center? A number of the eroding characteristics you describe remain somewhat more intact in small, rural midwest towns. Maybe that's why arch conservatives hve such a clear memory of "the way things used to be" and are so fierce about returning to the good old days. I'm just sayin'...