June 26, 2009

Yes Ma'am

Think for a moment to the old days when youth respected age. Any decent adult was free to correct any kid, and did. Rude behavior just wasn't tolerated - not in public and not at home. These days, as I've reached my mid-forties and woken up to what was going on around me, I've been known to correct a complete stranger's child (or children) in a public place, usually Wal-Mart: "No running!", or "No yelling, please!" and once, "Where's your mother? I'm going to wash your mouth out with soap!" It sounds positively Victorian doesn't it, what I do? And presumptuous - who am I to correct someone else's child? "This is America, goddammit, and nobody messes with MY kids." (Um, including you, ma'am.)

I do have to say there's an age limit on the kids I'll correct. I tend to leave the teenagers alone since one never knows when one of them will pull a weapon and put me down. Yes, one actually flashed a knife at me in Wal-Mart, in front of God and everybody - and said "Lady, mind your own fucking business." Hmph. I did. Funny, I can't even remember what the little asshole did. He was one of those tattooed-by-the-age-of-10, bolts-of-metal-through-every-loose-bit-of-skin kind of kids. Maybe 14 years old? What does that say about courtesy and respect in America today?

Most children today have plain old bad manners. They haven't been taught courtesy and respect. One of the characters in the movie "No Country for Old Men" said something to the effect that when "yes ma'am" and "no sir" went away, well, it was Katie-bar-the-door on society. I'm with him on that.

What if adults politely corrected the misbehavior of children around them? Maybe the kids would get the message. If the parents would allow others to correct their children maybe the parents would get the message, too. I don't foresee it happening in the general population but I'm going to keep at it. Perhaps I can make a tiny difference, one child at a time.

June 25, 2009

It's Not My Fault!

I don't usually rant. I normally try to stay somewhere between cheerful and chirpy as much as to not annoy my husband as to hide my real state of mind. But sometimes something gets under my skin and I have to write about it. I hope you'll get something from this, even if it's just thought-provoking.

I admit that I've sometimes had trouble owning up to my mistakes. But when it comes to the real things, the things of importance, I will face the music. I confess, apologize as needed, and most importantly I admit that in some way that I was at fault for whatever the problem was.

It amazes me how many people today won't take responsibility for their actions. Take my only child, for example. He's 24 and should know better, but everything from being fired from a job because of absenteeism and tardiness to his recent D.U.I. are all "Not My Fault." In his mind he literally has no responsibility for any of it. He was a victim of circumstance, malice, or any of a hundred other absolutions he imagines. So many people, especially our kids, blame others consistently for the consequences of their own actions. "Not My Fault" echoes across America.

It's a social cancer. It started when kids were allowed to escape the consequences of their actions. When we stopped punishing our children for doing things they knew they shouldn't do. When we accepted lame excuses for poor performance, for irresponsibility. When we parents started letting them get away with blaming their problems on something other than their own actions. Those kids grew up and passed it on to their kids. And there's only one way to stop it.

Ask yourself if you're accepting responsibility for your own behavior. If you're not, your kids won't either. The next time you want to blame your situation on someone else, ask yourself if you did something to put yourself there. Remember that the hard road is admitting you put yourself there; the easy road is lying to yourself and blaming somebody else. Both roads have consequences just like everything else in life.

The easy road lets you tell yourself you didn't do anything wrong, you didn't fail at something, you didn't make a mistake. You're just a victim of life, it's not your fault. This kind of thinking lets you be lazy, it relieves you of having to learn to overcome obstacles. Do you really want to live your life as a victim? Helpless and unable to better yourself and your situation in life? I'll bet the answer is no.

Just once take the hard road and accept responsibility for your own actions. It's painful for a little while but your conscience will be clear and more importantly, you'll be in charge of your life. You won't be a victim any more.