Excuse me? Does this come in a size 4?
Welcome to 'DeNae Goes Off-Script', my annual foray into the thoughts that I normally -- and very generously, I might add -- keep to myself or sometimes fling against my Facebook wall to see if anything sticks.
Today's Off-Script subject is "What on earth is up with young parents these days?" This is actually a very popular subject among parents of a certain age, namely 'fifty', who are pretty sure they had it all together when raising their own kids and now can't for the life of them figure out what went wrong when the next generation of offspring turned up.
In other words, people like me.
I have one granddaughter, and she is three months old, so of course she is perfect. And my son and daughter-in-law haven't had enough time to mess things up with her, although I fear that keeping her on the other side of the country from her grandma shows questionable judgment. Don't tell them I said that.
But honestly, I have to wonder about *some* parents out there. (Not you, David and Karyn. Honest. Now put Elaina on the phone, please.)
Take, for instance, these people. This article shares Facebook posts, text messages, and emails that parents (primarily mothers) have sent to or about the Disney Store, all vilifying Disney for not carrying unlimited supplies of Elsa dresses, dolls, plushes, shoes, earrings, wine glasses, and surface-to-air missiles.
My favorites are the ones that claim that Disney is responsible for their 3-year old losing all faith in humanity. "This may be the reason my child no longer believes in Santa or the Easter Bunny," one horrified mother accuses. Because nothing celebrates the Savior's victory over death quite like an Elsa doll in your Easter basket.
Not that this is the point, exactly, but back in my day, we went years between Disney movies. And they were usually those fake nature documentaries like "Our Delightful Friend, the Tree Sloth," narrated by a guy who sounded like a cross between Tom Bodette and a domestic terrorist.
And if you think the Disney Store was awash in Delightful Tree Sloth collectibles, think again. In the first place, if you wanted to go to the Disney Store, you first had to go to Disney-LAND. (My friends and I had heard about a Disney-WORLD, somewhere in the wilds of Florida, but no one actually believed either place existed. Disney World, or Florida.) And then, once you were there, you had three Delightful Tree Sloth options: Delightful Tree Sloth hat, Delightful Tree Sloth mug, or Delightful Tree Sloth key ring. You know, for all those keys you carried around when you were eight.
That was it.
But back to the point, which is this: When did adults turn into whiny, spoiled nincompoops raising whiny, spoiled nincompoops? Are kids really that disappointed when they can't get their mitts on all the Frozen paraphernalia their little hearts desire? Or do parents do it to them? Make a gigantic deal out of the doll or the dress or whatever, and then make an equally big deal when their kid can't have it? "You're destroyed, aren't you, Pumpkin? Tell the lady behind the counter. Tell her how destroyed you are."
This article talks about 'the religion of parenthood' that the author posits began back in the 80s with those 'Baby on Board' bumper stickers, the idea being that a driver who had, until pulling into traffic behind the car with the BOB bumper sticker, planned on treating the freeway like a giant pinball machine, would now proceed with extreme reverence because there was an extra-special human in the car ahead of him. This led to the unspoken -- and then spoken -- theory that people were at their most important at birth, and steadily declined in relevance as they grew older.
In it, the author talks about the blasphemy associated with ever saying anything negative about your kids. She mentions a writer who was all but crucified when she had the appalling lack of moral fiber to admit that she loved her husband more than she did her kids. People threatened to call CPS on her; told her in print that she deserved to have her children taken away from her. Can you imagine?
Blogging, my home-within-my-home, has definitely contributed to the problem. Suddenly, there were a hundred zillion mom bloggers turned gurus out there, all worshiping at the altar of 'childhood' and convincing each other that kids were the deities of the New Age, millennial sacred cows that had no patience for poly-theism or even the occasional night off. You never questioned kids' demands, never wondered if their need for their nine millionth action figure was more a matter of impulse control than the utterance of eternal, life-defining truth; you just obeyed with the hope that you would be rewarded for your devotion in the post-teen afterlife.
Ask parents in their fifties how well that's worked out for them. Or ask their kids. They're still living in the basement.
Is it any wonder, then, that as those same kids become parents they hold themselves and the world to the same standard they came to expect as children? "Because she wants it" has replaced "Because I said so" as the go-to answer when kids face possible disappointment. Only now, it's the kids and the parents doing the demanding. Mom is often no more likely to understand the meaning of "No" than Junior is; we see that all over the internet. Bankruptcy and divorce courts, too.
Look, all I'm saying is our kids deserve the chance to live with disappointment. They deserve to know how it feels to have to wait for something, to work for it, to earn it. And they deserve to know that the world doesn't owe them a damn thing. No A's for D work. No college degrees. No high paying jobs. No fancy cars and fancier zip codes.
No Elsa dolls.
Want to save your kids? Stop throwing a tantrum every time they don't get their way. Teach them that each new day is a gift.
Everything else comes at a price.