When I was in school, my mother packed my lunch each day. We didn’t have hot lunch but once a month, so all the kids brown bagged it. Some days, everything she sent was what I liked. Other days, not so much. But back then, with two recesses a day out in the fresh air and no snack like they have in many classes now mid-day, by the time lunch rolled around, I was starving. By 10:30 I was starving, for that matter! So whatever Mom sent, I ate it, like it or not.
Twice recently, I caught our six-year-old complaining about something she didn’t like to eat. “I only have ketchup on this,” she said the other night. “I don’t like mustard.”Too late, there was mustard already on the hamburger.
“Eat it anyway. Life doesn’t revolve around our likes and dislikes, ” I said.
She ate it and never said another word. When we were kids, it really was different. Times were such that our delicate little tastes weren’t catered to. Mom put dinner on, and we ate it. Less of things we didn’t like, second helpings of what we did like. She didn’t serve up individual meals because this one doesn’t care for that shape of pasta, or this one won’t eat that kind of vegetable.
Much has been written about entitled Millennials, the cry bullies in that generation who are turning campuses into hell with their endless demands for safe spaces, speech censorship, etc. Raising people like this starts early — by catering to a toddler who refuses to drink out of this cup or demands a certain cereal bowl or he won’t eat breakfast. Go ahead, meet your child’s every demand, but you’re making a rod for your own back and the rest of society as well.
Yesterday, Emily complained mildly that she had been hoping for this and not that for breakfast “Eat this, and thank God for it,” I said rather abruptly. She did. Her wishes don’t rule our home, and she knows it. It’s not that her feelings don’t come into consideration – it’s that we have the final say as parents, and whining about what you didn’t get to eat is a terrible way to start out life. The headlines have ample evidence of how that turns out.
On a separate but related note, I read yesterday that the average American prom costs $1000 dollars per student, with kids engaging in ever more exotic “promposals” to ask a girl out. Some of these “promposals” cost hundreds of dollars in themselves, and the more over the top, the more attention you get on Instagram. The obscenity of this, in the face of the staggering costs of higher education (read debt) can’t be adequately expressed in writing. The schools enable all of this. No, they encourage it.
Rather than parents and schools proactively reversing the trend by dialing back the scale of the prom event and making it a fun time all can participate in, the entitled kids are driving the party bus, and it is completely out of control. Those girls who aren’t asked out, or who don’t have money for limo rides, after parties, formal dresses, shoes, accessories and getting hair, nails and make-up done for the “red carpet?? Well, kids you’re out of luck. You have a big L for loser on your back. And we wonder why we have depression and suicide on the rise in schools? Nothing is as it should be, that’s why.
We can only commit to teaching our children better in our own homes. We are not ultimately responsible for the choices our kids make as adults, but we are responsible to do our part to raise grounded, grateful and common sense people. Sometimes that means telling them, “Just eat it.”