Monday, March 22, 2010

My niece, tattling & her dad's beer can

Like every other generation before it I belong to a generation that bemoans what has happened to young people, and what they are doing to themselves.

I was reminded of this story from my life when listening to witness at church this weekend. The man bearing witness was struck by how several impoverished girls in an orphanage shared the remaining half bottle of his soda pop with a total of 15 other children, so each could get a sip. I observed the same type of thing with the Native American children I sponsored. But listen to what happened in my own family, back in the not so good old 1970's.

My brother and wife with their young child, my niece, was visiting grandma's house, where I still had a room. My brother being much older than I, when he went to college I moved into his room, had his furniture and the little knick knacks that he left for me. For example, he had a beautiful little ceramic of a fawn (that I still treasure, though I've not seen it in many years, as all my stuff is locked up in storage out of my reach). On the desk I had a beer can that my brother had used as a pencil cup, and I used it the same. It was cool, being of a brand of beer, Jaguar I think, with decoration of the same skin pattern.

My niece was fairly well grown, a child, not a toddler by any means. I was showing her around my room. In order to give her a feeling for how our family (small as it was) passed down the few things we had (we were poor and all my mom's stuff was lost in World War II), when we got to the pencil cup I told her how it was her dad's.

I was shocked, and still remember, how that little head whipped around to look at me with, to my amazement, dislike! Without a word she ran into the other room, squealing, "Dad! Dad! Aunt C has YOUR CAN!" running as fast as she could to, yep, you guessed it, "tattle" on me. Even when my bro came into the room and fondly reminisced about the can, she just glared at me, thinking only that I had stolen her precious dad's can.

Now, you might think that was funny, but it was quite a jolt for two reasons. One is that this was the first time I met a child that did not understand older sibling handing down to younger sibling his no longer wanted stuff. See, she had fine new bought things all her life. (She would later tell her grandmother that she didn't like staying in her house because she did not have a TV in every room). So I saw the first example of that very worrying and shallow, grasping trend in children, children who are old enough to know better. Second I had a premonition of where this mindset would lead her. And true, now she hangs out with celebrity tattle tales ha.

Parents, parents, parents... you are the generation that my niece belongs to. What are you teaching your children? If you were born into the way my niece was, how much worse is your children's generation? The Bible and good parenting teaches moderation, grace, good manners, appreciation, and being honorable (not tattlers) for a reason: it is not only the righteous and just way to be, but it is the way to avoid many physical and spiritual pitfalls in life. It is not healthy nor is it fair to not object when your little prince or princess has their fanny buffed constantly so that they think everyone else has "their stuff," where no matter what they have legitimately, they resent what others have, as small as it is.

So I'm glad there are still generous children who share rather than tattle, though according to the witness I heard on Sunday, I guess they are in Mongolia!