Saturday, September 13, 2014

“Kids These Days…” Teaching, raising, and loving the entitled…


I was walking out the door this morning to go grocery shopping. I asked my kids if either of them wanted to go with me. My son said, “Mom, I don’t really want to hurt your feelings, but sometimes it’s nice to just lay around at home.” No problem, son…I wish I knew how that felt. My seven year-old daughter says, “I’d rather stay here with Dad, but will you please bring me a vanilla bean Frappuccino?” Um, no. And who in the name of Starbucks raised these kids?!

I drove away (alone, thankfully) with a weird, discontented feeling. The kind of feeling that caused me to turn off the radio (which I NEVER do) so that I could be alone with my thoughts and try and figure out where this sense of entitlement came from.

And then I realized. It came from me.

I am living, parenting, and teaching in a much different place than all of those brave parents and teachers before me. The kids that I encounter on a day-to-day basis (including the ones I birthed) are growing up in a different society than I did. These kids wear $15 Nike socks and carry $40 monogrammed lunchboxes. They are accustomed to treats, entertainment, technology, vacations, and trips to restaurants that I would never have thought possible when I was eight years old. Kindergartners get back-to-school pedicures and ten year-olds get blow-out birthday parties and even as I sit here and type this…I can’t completely convince myself that it is their fault that they feel entitled. My daughter didn’t ask for a vanilla bean Frappuccino because she’s a spoiled brat.

She asked for one because last weekend, I asked her if she wanted one.

We were grocery shopping and I stopped at Starbucks for my inaugural Salted Caramel Mocha, and I asked her if she wanted a treat and she said yes. Today when I mentioned shopping, she knew I would go to Starbucks again because I feel entitled. Every weekend I feel like I deserve something that is delicious for having to grocery shop on a Saturday. And maybe I do and maybe I don’t, but either way…it’s on me, not her.

The Frappuccino Debacle of 2014 caused me to think and think and think…What are the ramifications of entitlement? How does it affect my children? How does it affect the students I teach? Is it inherently evil? How far should I go to be certain that my kids are not jerks because I bought them a cute shirt or threw them a fun birthday party? Should I only shop at thrift stores? Should they only drink water? Welcome to my brain…A VERY SCARY PLACE TO BE!

Our district encourages kids to bring their own electronic devices to school and then we complain that kids are too connected to their devices. I give my kids treats and then I wonder why they ask for a treat. We take our kids on a fun vacation and then that becomes the expectation. I use sarcasm, sass, and humor in my interactions with the little people in my care and then I get shocked when they use sarcasm, sass, and humor right back to me.

So…what is a mom/teacher/person who LOVES to be around children to do?

I’m asking you because I have no earthly idea.

The only plan I could come up with as I was sipping this morning’s Latte was that each decision made from today on out will be made with the intent to raise kids who are funny, kind, thoughtful, and appreciative. I don’t think that it’s a crime to take Mallory to get our nails done. I think it’s a crime if she pitches a fit if I say no. I don’t think it is necessarily wrong that my son wants a big birthday party. I think it’s wrong if he gets angry when we place rational limits on the guest list and the budget. I do not believe that my daughter will never have another vanilla bean Frappuccino. I believe that day will come when I say no and she questions my authority. I don’t plan to eliminate sarcasm from my interactions with my kids, but I do believe that there are teachable moments for them (and me) that I will capitalize on as the unique situation arises.

This week, one of my students said, “Um, Mrs. Taylor, it seems like you may have forgotten that we go to recess pretty soon.”

Um, student, it seems like you may have forgotten that that diploma that is framed on the wall means I have a degree in education that comes with it the uncanny ability to read a clock and if you will kindly sit down and let me be the boss of this classroom, we will get ready to line up for recess.

Please notice that mine isn’t in quotes because I only thought it in my head. This time.

This week I am going to be intentional in my interactions with the children in my life that I love so dearly. I am going to look for ways to interject humor with a love for life. I will try to teach them to be kind and go out of their way to help others. I will read them stories and sing songs about the states of matter and I will try with everything I am to make them better people. I will probably be sarcastic. I will maybe be sassy. And I FOR SURE will have a Starbucks.