So tell me something. Is the point at which you look at kids and think ‘f-cking kids‘ instead of smiling and thinking back to your own younger years the day that you are, unquestionably, old?
Let me explain.
My husband is in school. He has wanted to do what he does for a living his entire life. When he was at the tail-end of high school he started going to tech school and began working when the rest of us (me) were still partying our way through four (ten) years of college. Fifteen years later, he is doing a job that he loves, but he’s unable to sign his own work because he’s not “registered.” In other states his years of experience would allow him to be registered but not here. For the record, this irritates and frustrates me more than it does him, but that’s neither here nor there. In this state he needs a Master’s Degree. Which of course first requires a Bachelor’s Degree. Every other weekend he goes to a small liberal arts college to chip away at his B.A. He’s doing everything he can to get done as quickly as possible and with the best GPA possible.
Early in this adventure, as he was trying to get his generals out-of-the-way, he took ceramics to satisfy an art elective. He found that he loved it and has an affinity for it. This trimester he was able to take another ceramics class which requires a good amount of time at school to work on his pottery. I go along sometimes to write, or work, or read, so we can hang out while he’s at school. Yesterday was one of those days.
Enter into the picture the f-cking college kids. We got to the arts building and the door was locked. My husband saw people in the ceramics room, walked over and knocked on the window, and we waited. And waited. And waited. Until finally a sullen 18-year-old prepster sauntered up, opened the door, rolled her eyes, ignored our “thank yous,” and returned to the room. On the classroom radio she was listening to Ryan Seacrest count down the Top 40. Also present was a classmate of my husband’s, a man in his mid-50s, working on his own project while listening to David Guetta as loudly as the radio could play him. The sullen girl stomped around the room, took frequent breaks to text, and cheered up only when a quirky guy of maybe 20 walked in. She then became overly talkative and animated. When he paid her less attention than desired, she left.
The guy in his mid-50s then changed the radio station to jazz and turned it down a bit.
Maybe 15 minutes later yet another sullen 18 year-old, this time with pink hair instead of blonde, walked in. Jesus. Cheer-up already! You’re IN COLLEGE. A rather expensive private school for that matter. How tortured can you be for Christ’s sake?! She stomped around the room, appeared to be dating the quirky 20 year-old, and she instantly changed the station to something horrible and turned it all the way up. I’ll be honest…I wanted to kick her a-s. So…really…you didn’t notice that there are several other people in here who possibly had some say in what we were listening to prior to your dramatic entrance? WTF?! Entitled much?
I’m not saying I was the loveliest person in college. I may or may not have been a little b-tchy. But typically, when attractive and really awesome older people were present, I wasn’t a complete a-shole. Instead I wanted them to like me. So what is the deal?! And more importantly, how do I stop my little girls from ever becoming so disrespectful of
Not long ago I was driving with my little girls and two of their little friends. We were driving back to our house and passed the home of a sculptor. The artist has their sculptures displayed all over their large yard and bordering the driveway from the house down to the street. I don’t love the art but it’s pretty cool to see it when we pass by.
On this particular day, as we passed the sculptor’s home, my oldest little girl and her friend had the following conversation:
Friend: What is THAT?! (Said with disgust.)
Oldest Little Girl: The person who lives there makes that stuff.
Friend: It’s HORRIBLE.
Oldest Little Girl: They sell them to people.
Friend: WHO would BUY it?! It’s horrible!
Oldest Little Girl: Lots of people buy them. There used to be a lot more but people bought them.
Friend: They are crazy.
Me (feeling the need to rescue my little girl’s optimism and excitement about the artist’s home): Isn’t it so cool that they get to make their own art and that people want to buy it? What a cool thing! We love passing that house!
Friend: Umm…I guess. (Totally not convinced.)
So here’s the thing. We’ve never even discussed the sculptures when we’ve passed but we usually all crane our necks to see all we can as we zoom by. I have lots of conversations with my little girls about being respectful, being kind, being strong girls, but this was surprising for me. My oldest little girl stood her positive ground and defended an artist we’ve never discussed and that we certainly don’t know.
The two situations, that of sullen over-dramatic and poor-taste-in-music college kids, and the exchange between my little girl and her friend are very different. I know. But they represent the same thing to me. I know we’ve done our best to instill kindness, and respect, and strength, and self-confidence, but how do we avoid the entitlement? How do we avoid our little girls thinking that they get to decide what is and is not horrible in the world based on their (possibly uninformed) opinions? How do we get them to behave in a manner that is respectful, kind, informed, and educated without them also feeling entitled and like they know everything about everything?
Whatever happened to wonder? And cheerfulness? And respecting others?
Sometimes I’ll make snarky remarks when driving because…well…there are a lot of idiots on the road. I wonder though…when I’m sarcastic about others, or feel the need to always be right, or am less than kind or respectful to strangers, or rush to judgement based on my own opinions, am I more likely to raise little girls who find that behavior acceptable? Of course I am. Sh-t.
TODAY: What if I try to remember that I am a role model for the kinds of women my little girls will grow-up to be? What if I can do better when it comes to walking the walk I’m trying to get them to walk? What if I also need to be a little more patient with people even when they make me feel violent (I’m talking about you sullen college girls!!!)? I guess I can’t claim to be any better if I’m planning their untimely deaths simply because they lack community room radio etiquette.