Mother’s Day…

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It’s a dreadfully wonderful day that makes all of us feel guilty.  Mothers—because we feel unworthy of the accolades bestowed on us today—and kids feel guilty because there’s no way to adequately thank the person who brought you into the world.

Truth be told, even though it is “our day”, we women sometimes feel terrible on this day since most of us are both mothers and daughters.  A case of double guilt!

I tell you what.  I’ll make us all feel guilty for the sad state of the nation’s youth,          and we’ll all feel blessedly awful together.  (Since I’m a Mama, I can do that, y’see?  It’s my privilege this month.)

It takes a lot of gall to say this, folks, but we’re in a real mess.  We’ve got ourselves a generation of moody, undisciplined kids who whine, talk-back, swear—who live in a cyber world of Non-reality and who refuse to eat anything but fast food…And that’s the good side of ‘em.  We don’t even want to talk about the bad side.  The juvenile delinquency, the drug and alcohol epidemic, the gangs, the internet debauchery, the sexual immorality, the rampant venereal diseases, the teen theft and homicide.

What has become of common sense?

What’s with the tongue-studs and piercings on every flap of skin on the human body?   Why do parents and grandparents allow these kids to listen to the filth that pours forth from rock ‘n roll, and hip-hop stations, today?…Glorified rape and lust and sadomasochism spewing from the airwaves.  Why don’t they stand up and say: “Over my dead body will I tolerate such verbal vomit spewing into my home!”

I must be from Pluto or something.  I can’t fathom why we’ve allowed things to go so wrong on this planet.

Somehow, we see what other parents are doing wrong with their kids, and we feel obligated to do the same. These little munchkins wrap us around their fingers and make blithering fools of us all.  They’re the bosses of our homes at the tender age of six years old, and by the time they’re sixteen, they are a national disgrace.  They make us cower and blush and stammer apologies in front of our friends.  We’re embarrassed of ourselves and of our offspring, but not ashamed enough to do anything about it.

Think about it for a minute.  What would our great grandparents say about this spoiled generation?  They would do more than roll over in their graves if they knew the mess we’ve made.  (Notice I didn’t say just plain grandparents.  Unfortunately, the grandparents of today can do more spoiling of this generation than we do ourselves!)

When did kids go from being respectful children who wouldn’t dream of talking back to adults—to these monsters who now swear, fight, sabotage and even kill their parents, teachers, and authority figures?  Something has gone horribly wrong. But what?

The answer is simple, really.  What went wrong is lack of “tough love” and consistency in the home.  As parents and grandparents, we’re too busy to give hugs and to look these kids in the eye and to listen to their grievances.  We’re too busy to give the consistent discipline that is required to produce good kids.  We’re afraid to trust our parental instincts that tell us common sense things like:

Don’t let Johnny shout in your face.

Don’t ignore outright defiance in hopes that it will go away.

Don’t be afraid to say No, or to pull all privileges.

Don’t be forever negotiating with the whims and wants of your children and grandchildren. Don’t give them pizza every night because they refuse to eat something more wholesome.   Don’t throw gobs of money and material things at them because you feel guilty over your poor parenting and grandparenting skills.  Make them earn those boom boxes and cell phones and i-pods, and sports-cars.  Give them chores to do and expect them to do them.

And then most of all, give them what they really need—your time and undivided attention, and the rest will take care of itself.  Hold them a lot.  Lie down on their beds at night and talk.  Spend a Saturday afternoon playing Frisbee.  Shut off the blessed noise-boxes about us and listen to what your kids and grandkids have to say….

If it’s not too late.

My fear is that it is too late for a lot of kids.  It’s hard to un-do years of neglect and lack of discipline.  It’s a sad state of affairs when the nation has to learn how to be good parents, again, by watching TV shows like the Nanny and Dr. Phil.                   .

But I guess if that’s what it takes, then more power to the Nanny.  And may God bless Dr. Phil.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

And now, I’m getting off my soapbox, folks.  I’ll leave you with this old anecdote from my archives… I wrote a column almost twenty years ago, and I just recently dug it out of a box of memorabilia. It’s odd to read it, today, and to see the changes that have taken place in my oldest daughter’s life.

I can’t say I was the world’s greatest mom.  I made many of the same mistakes mentioned above—but my daughter has done me proud.  She is a thriving entrepreneur who created her own website designing/maintenance business at the age of 21.  She now has clients from all over the U.S. and even overseas.

I couldn’t be more proud of her.  I know that the roots to her success go back to a day many, many years ago….

“Mom,” my six-year-old Karissa said the other day. “I want to have a Kool-aid stand so I can make some money.”

“Mmm-hmm,” I said over my shoulder as I headed down the hill toward my fish pool.  I hadn’t been down there too long when I saw Karissa round the corner of the house, leading a parade of people toward her tree house…A mom or two, a Grandma, and a half-dozen kids.  They were all ‘going on a tour’ of Karissa’s tree house, they said.

“This little girl promised us a free tour if we’d buy her Kool-aid,” they told me.

“Kool-aid?” I said weakly. I followed them back to the road.  In the driveway stood my organ bench, bedecked with crudely written signs:  “Cool-ade + shugar and water.   10 sents.’

A pitcher of lukewarm, day-old Kool-aid sat on the bench along with an assortment of dirty-looking cups and mugs.

I swallowed hard and tried to smile.

“Look at all the money I made,” Karissa said after we’d told her customers goodbye.  “I sold some Kool-aid to the man up the hill, too…But he brought his own cup.”

“I bet he did…” I said, eyeing the dirty mugs which had obviously been used several times.

“I have my own business!” Karissa said.  “I’m so proud…!”

I was proud, too—after I got over my embarrassment.  I thought the “Cool-ade” stand would satisfy her ambitious little soul.  But no. Things only got worse in the next day or so….

“Ma,am? Is there anything you want me to do, today?”  Karissa posed the question delicately as I bustled about the kitchen.

“Well,” I said, glancing across the room.  “I need someone to salt the chicken on the stove.  Do you charge for that?”

Karissa thought for a moment, then shook her head.  “No.  If you say ‘Please’, I’ll do it for free.  But…” she added quickly, “You can’t always say ‘Please’…”

She paused.  “I’m thinking of starting a business today as a column-typer,” she said in her no-nonsense tone.  “I’m sending my articles to the newspaper that does your column, and they’ll print them for me.  Then thousands of people can read what I write about.”

Her eyes sparkled and her business-like tone melted into one of childish excitement.  “I can type about anything!  Cabbage-Patch dolls.  Root beer.  Light bulbs.  Berenstain Bears.  Moths getting into Daddy’s clothes.  Um…” she stopped to think.  “Hey!  I could even write about you, like you write about me!”

“Uh, Karissa,” I said, but she had already scampered off to the word processor.

Sometime later, she came to me flourishing a grubby piece of paper.  “Here it is!” she said.  “How much will they pay me, Mom?”

I looked down at the sparse words typed crookedly on the page. “Well,” I said hesitantly.  “It’s very nice, but I’m not sure they’ll print it in the—”

“Oh, they will!” she said with childlike trust.

I sighed.  I knew, then, that I’d be including a few unlikely words at the very end of this month’s newspaper column…

“Moon and stors.  Stors and the moon.  The moon is ver far a way.  It livs in the sky…. I want to tipe some colums.  My name is Karissa.  I am Vicki’s dodder.”

There!  We’re all off the hook for now….

Maybe.

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