I invest a lot of time trying to teach my kids basic manners, common decency and respect, things we seem to take for granted these days. It’s a work in progress, but I get a certain sense of satisfaction when I ask my two-year-olds, “What do you say?” and they know instinctively to say, “Gracias,” or, “Thank you,” as the case may be.
So, how do I explain to my seven- and four-year-olds that there are people, likely kids, out there, that, for no other reason than to be just plain rude, threw eggs at our front porch and car on Halloween night while they were busy inside delighting in their trick-or-treating goodies? Yep, the next morning I stepped outside to find smashed up egg shells and egg innards crusted (from the cold) on our jack-o-lanterns and porch. How DO you scrape frozen-on egg yolk off of cement?
We’ve all been teenagers and we all know how deep the waters of peer pressure run, despite the most well-intentioned parenting strategies for raising responsible kids. But a part of me can’t help but wonder if parents are doing enough or if we’re just living in the dark. I have a zero-tolerance rule for rude behaviour from my kids and I have no problem hauling them out of a situation when they’ve completely lost all sense of basic manners and respect. Usually these meltdowns occur when it’s time to leave a fun playdate or they’ve been asked to do some atrocious act, like clean up the basement. My daughter turns into little Miss Sassypants and my son could be a deadringer for a screeching night owl. But I stand firm. And, you know, for the most part, my children are recognized for their politeness, which, let’s be honest, is a huge boost to any parent’s ego. However, this is not always the case.
So, when suddenly I found myself on the receiving end of an unprovoked egg attack, I was shocked, disappointed, but not entirely surprised. Sure, I wondered, “Why?” Doubtful it was any of the young kids on our street; likely some unruly teens from the surrounding neighborhood. Was it ‘just because’? Was it random? Was it because they didn’t like the Play-doh? Either way, tonight at work I discussed this topic with some coworkers and one one of my regular clients. We represent a diverse age group. But we all felt the same way; and that is that ‘kids these days’ (a term probably coined in the ’50s) are narcisissistic, self-righteous and are so technologically-engulfed, that they have little or no regard for basic human decency. And we, as parents, are responsible.
We certainly have our work cut out for us. No doubt there are those that turn the other cheek, but I know I would be mortified if I found out one of my children were involved in such a rude and inconsiderate act. With school-aged children, I’ve often worried about the what-ifs of bullying. I’ve always said that the only thing worse than my child being a victim of bullying is them being the bully themselves. But I feel that when kids pressure other kids to disrespect other people’s property, then leading them to disrespect another person is not far behind.
If only they could flash-forward 15 years…then maybe, maybe they might think twice before launching that egg.