Kids Today!

It seems that now that I have progressed to a certain age of maturity, I have taken my place among the ranks of the senior generation to comment critically on the younger ones. What was so exasperating to me about that in my youth, I now am looking at from the other side. As they say, it depends whether you're pitching, or catching.

Nonetheless, would someone please explain to me the thing with the pants worn so low that the belt line falls under the butt cheeks; quarter mast, if you will. Is this a gay thing? Forward that query to your young ones and I'll bet it gets them to pull the pants up post haste. Unless, in fact they are gay; in which case they already are wearing their pants at the waist. That sub-set has its own unique signifier styles. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Just the other day I spied one of our youth strolling by a group of young girls with his pants way low and his underwear the only thing covering up his protruding tuckus. (And, the undies weren't all that cool, by the way. Plaid seems to be what to wear if you go down the down low.) The girls called him by name, but registered nothing on the shame/outrage/silly comment/mockery scale at the sight of his bum. To me that bum with the bum looked like . . . a bum. I guess it's a generational thing. But, as adults we should perhaps convey to the youth that walking with the belt line of your trousers around your thighs will, over time, give you one hell of a funny gait. Call the Ministry of Silly Walks. Better to have plenty of insurance for all the unintended negative bio-mechanical consequences from walking having to have your thighs hold up your pants. Like the sergeant said in my Army days, "Boy, you march like a monkey trying to hump a football!"

The other thing is watching how contemporary parents are raising their kids. It's as if we regard our newborns as if they come into this world fully endowed and all's we have to do is provide food, light and water like some hot house flowers, and they will automatically blossom into the perfect beings we know they are. Now, I have grand children and they happen to be perfect. (Really, I am speaking with rigorous scientific objectivity when I assure you that they are . . . well, I won't belabor you with my high praise for those kids, except to say the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. Tree-Wronski, that is. So you know I am right about that.) But, kids need guidance. Like many of the good nuns in my parochial school days who seemed to regard us as born devils in need of some ruthless, compassionate whipping into shape.

Specifically, I am thinking about how contemporary parents go about as I see them sometimes in public conversing with the kids as if those snot nosed little buggers have some equal say in the matter. "Johnny, what should we have for lunch today?" "Mary, would you like it if Mommy buys you a Hello Kitty purse, or some new Mary Janes?" (But, do notice the embedded maternal/paternal control. Mommy and/or Daddy are the ones giving the choice.)

Also notice the embedded lesson that life is about being a good consumer, making all the right choices. There's also the shopping for learning, for wealth, for fame, position, good looks, friends. It doesn't seem to be a fitting term, but there's even the shopping for memories; e.g., vacation destination promotion. And, the big one, shopping for experiences. The one who dies with the most/best/different experiences . . . wins! Really? You do know what I'm talking about. Values isn't about your taste in wine, or how many types of salt you keep in the kitchen.

There's nothing wrong with teaching your kid how to negotiate the world. But, there's more to it. When Mr. Sheen came out with his "Winning" he was mocked, but isn't that what we more than anything want our kids to do? Again, nothing wrong with winning, but there's more. While we are teaching our little precious how to make the right choices in life, how about inculcating a sense of duty and obligation. Duty and obligation to more than what may please at any given moment. Something more than the single minded selfish point of view of someone whose only goal is to win, whatever that may be. One's duty and obligation to do the right thing. To be true to oneself. To respect. To share. To trust. These fall in the purview of values. The culture, at least from what I can tell in the media, isn't going to offer much in that department. There, it is about winning; profits and power.

We recently read about a situation where the whole cheerleading squad came on the field at game time by mistake and several of the girls fainted and had to be ambulanced away. Whatever the researchers will come out on as the reason, it seems plain that at least some undue pressure to perform correctly was undercurrent in that bizarre event.

Values education may not be as concrete a thing to get at as learing how to decide what color car to buy. Values seems to fall more in the domain of teaching by example. As I heard Joseph Chilton Pearce say, "If you want your kids to grow up the way you want them to be, you be the way you want them to be."

I grew up in a home where the rule was children should be seen and not heard. As that endless kvetcher-kibbitzerNo way! Styles had definitely moved on even then: and, besides, we weren't living in Bavaria. (I've always wanted to learn to yodel though. Maybe mom had more insight into me than I give her credit?) But I do still have the seared in memory on another occasion of being the only little boy in the whole damn school when in the May school parade—in a springtime celebration of the Blessed Virgin the entire grade school of kids would march in procession from the school building to the church across the street—I was required to wear, can you believe it, short pants. Yuk! Talk about character building. But, in fairness and balance, as I grew older I did notice my parents ease up year to year in support of my independence. Noticeably, on things like my clothes choices and how late the curfew hour. As a young high school gent I was a pretty snazzy dresser. Would scour the city on my bicycle, away from home on summer days for hours. I always did eat what was served. My mother was a good cook, thank God.

I'm remembering once with my own two daughters at dinner when the older girl piped up that she didn't like the food. The younger one joined the protest in a heartbeat. Now, we were pretty good cooks, mostly from scratch with fresh quality ingredients. Yet, I also am savvy enough to know that not everybody has the same taste. But it was just a petulant protest, so I simply replied, "Well, who said you had to like it?" Stopped them right in their tracks. No further complaints. Other times when they were protesting having eaten enough, I liked to strike a bargain, "Just three more bites." I would pile up the fork and when they only ate a portion I would announce, "That one counted only a half toward your three bites". They ate well. And, learned their fractions in the process.

1 comment:

kate said...

catching up on my wramblings-great stuff