Monday, June 27, 2011

Entitlement and the quick decline of society.

If you want to see, up-close and personal, the blooming seeds of entitlement that have been planted for the last ten to fifteen years, become a teacher.

I feel old lately and really do catch myself saying, "back in my day..."  because really...I don't get it.  I don't remember being disrespectful to my teachers, neither in grade school, nor in college or massage school.  I don't remember feeling like someone needed to remind me every ten seconds that homework was due.  I don't remember being allowed to "make-up" the seventeen classes I missed in college because I was hung-over.  I don't remember having a book of excuses to draw from when I failed.  It was just me. It was just that I wasn't doing the work that needed doing; and I knew this.

My parents, for all of their flaws, never allowed me to get away with SHIT.  If they thought, for even one second, that I was lying to them, I got slapped across the face.  And in no way am I advocating hitting your child or any form of child abuse, but I'll tell you what: I may be many different things...a liar is not one of them.

I had a paper route when I was 10.  I made about three dollars a week delivering the Quincy Sun on Wednesdays until I got a little older and could handle the daily Patriot Ledger.  Then, I made about 12 dollars a week.

I remember one Saturday morning feeling tired and cranky and those papers were heavy in my over-the-shoulder paper carrier.  I could only carry about six papers at a time and had to keep returning to the corner to pick up more papers.  It's an understatement to say I had a temper as a kid and I know now I also suffered from depression.  That being said, I took the remaining papers on the corner after I'd delivered about half and tossed them, hurled them, really, onto the pavement.  Garfield comics and coupons flew in the wind across the street and onto lawns.  I sat on the curb screaming and bawling my eyes out and my Dad came outside and made me put together the papers the best I could and deliver them as is.  That was the end of the paper route.  He made me give it up.  And that 12 dollars a week was never to be heard from again.


I feel like today, the parents would just give the kid a twenty and call it a day.  Or the tough-love types would drive that kid around every Saturday morning and not take any gas money from the profits.  I didn't feel entitled to it. I knew I fucked it up. And that was the end of that.

I ended up getting a job at a grocery store when I was 15.  I needed to pay for my driver's ed class and if I wanted to go to the movies, that was on me, too. If I showed up five minutes late, I was terrified. And by the way, the produce prices changed daily and we had to memorize them.  So everyday, there was a quiz.  This sucked.  And I didn't complain to anyone about it.  I just did it.  Because Annie, my manager, said so.

And even though I didn't get paid... even though I PAID to go to college, I would get a knot in my stomach if I entered my dance class five minutes late.  I would dread the glare the teacher and other students would give me.  I did NOT view myself as a consumer who should receive amazing customer service and be able to do whatever the hell I wanted.  I did not feel like I owned the classroom and could deface it. I did not have the attitude of, "shit, I pay your salary, mutherfucker" towards my math teacher.  Even when he wasn't nice to me. And I CERTAINLY didn't expect anyone to call me the night before a paper was due to gently remind me to bring it to class the next day. If I forgot an assignment, I didn't blame the teacher; I just jumped into self-loathing like a good early twenty-something.

I think social media and technology has helped to create this "drag-along" mentality.  Everyone is too easily reached and people expect you to use those means to remind them about stuff.  I have students (who are all over 18, by the way) calling their classmates' cell phones so that they can pass along the message to me that they'll be late or absent. Or worse, ask the student to hand the phone to me in class to tell me they'll be late or ask if they can miss class.  What do they want me to say? And do they think because they called their friend's phone or sent a picture of their being sick to show me, that I won't mark them absent?  Feel sorry for them and give them credit? I don't get it.  I understand sending me an email if you're missing class, but why wait until it's already started and then interrupt everyone else's experience?? Oh. Right.  Because it's all about you. I forgot.   But mostly, they don't let me forget. I hear about 20 times a day, "I pay $15,000 to go here."  No kidding?  So what?  So what does that mean?  That we should hand you your diploma? That now you don't have to work for it?  Really.  Baffling.  Those words carry entitlement in them.  Spread thick like frosting on a shit cake.   I had a student yesterday have the gall to tell me, essentially, I'm a bad mentor to him because I wouldn't let him join the student an hour and 15 minutes late.  That I wasn't asking him what was wrong, so therefore, I had an "attitude."  Back in my day, we called that "projection."  You know, when you have an attitude with someone and then tell them that they have an attitude with YOU.

It has to be something we're doing wrong out here. Something parents aren't teaching their kids, or teaching them accidentally by doing everything for them.

Let your kid do their own homework or not and suffer the consequences. Make them get a job, for Pete's sake.  Don't clean their room for them.  Please.  For me. For all of the other teachers, department store clerks and Starbucks Baristas that have to deal with them.  You aren't doing anyone any favors by spoon-feeding that child... least of all, them.

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