Flu Back In

The flu kept me away from this blog for a while, as well as a broken wrist (my daughter’s), teaching, and other dos and gos. I’ll try to make the entries shorter and oftener. My daughter was invited to a birthday party recently. Her friend was turning 9. Her friend and family live in the Hilton apartments, and the party was held in a sumptuous banquet hall. Some 15 3rd and 4th graders attended. My daughter and I were shocked and surprised by the behavior of the party-goers. I had attended because my daughter had broken her wrist just the day before and was learning how to maneuver–eat, dress, brush teeth, etc.–with one hand. I was in the background. No other parents attended. It was a free afternoon off for them, just as I had originally envisioned when the invitation came. In that beautiful Hilton banquet hall, 11 of the partygoers acted like monkeys, pure and simple. The elegant buffet and placesettings were turned into a circus. Is this normal these days? I mean, in my day, one childhood party at McDonald’s was considered the height of celebrating, but of course your mom made your cake. I never saw a bought cake until I was an adult and living on my own. Well, in my day, just going to McDonald’s was considered a real treat. I have 3 siblings, and we were expensive to feed on one middle-class income. Eating out at any place, whether it was the Varsity or some local homestyle-cooking restaurant, was considered–as they say-”high cotton.” I was never invited to a birthday party at the Hilton when I was a kid. But I would have behaved. I would not have eaten half-standing, with one knee in the white upholstered chair, swinging to the music, and swinging my spaghetti in red meaty sweeps all over that white chair. I would not have done cartwheels wildly around the room (as 4 girls did), and I would not have played hide-and-seek under the tables (even under the buffet tables heavy with four entrees and five elegant desserts). And these are the wealthy girls, the girl leaders of tomorrow. I shudder to think of this. Aren’t parents parenting anymore? My children are far far far from perfect (just like their parents!), I don’t expect them to be automatons of “good behavior,” but they do have kind hearts and have been taught good manners. Most of the time, out in public, at least, they have them, too. And they are accustomed to being told what I expect of them. We parent. We compliment and reward good behavior and scold and punish the less-than-desirable behavior. A “reward” can be as simple as a hug. Punishment can be as immediate as “If you can’t behave, go to your room.” We play a lot with our children. Both of us play Barbies, and both of us play with trains and Matchbox cars. When it’s a good rainy day, we will use the chairs and dining room table and blankets and make a “fort.” But we do not play on the furniture, nor do our children crawl under and play under the dining room table otherwise. Whenever I tell friends this Hilton Birthday Party story, they echo my worries. What is this current generation growing up to be? But perhaps this is an old, old story, and just my latest version of it. Still, it was profoundly shocking.

About Carmen

I teach English at Shorter College in beautiful Rome, Georgia.
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