What the hell generation are we on now? I know I was X. So what are teenagers right now? I think they’re past Y. Is it Z? Have they looped back around to AA? Whatever.
Consider this me calling out the current generation and questioning their commitment to excellence. Nay, consider this me calling out this current generation and questioning whether excellence truly resides within them.
I know this current generation includes my children. My step-children. My nieces. My nephews. The apples of my eye and the fruit of my loins. I love them. I truly do… But I’m not sure I respect them. And let me tell you why.
It comes down to sneakiness, rebellion and the violation of rules. Hold up though, this is not some kind of pie-in-the-sky rant about how great we were when we were young and how terrible kids today are. The rant I offer you today is this:
Why the hell don’t kids today care enough to be artful in their deceit?
Case in point – When I was in elementary school and didn’t want to take a shower, these are the lengths to which I remember going: I took my pajamas to the bathroom. I locked the door. I turned on the fan. I turned on the shower. I leaned my head under the water for long enough to get my hair wet. I took care to make wet footprints on the bathmat and to dampen my towel. I waited an appropriate amount of time. Then – and only then – I would make my pajama-clad exit from the bathroom. Now, undoubtedly at this point, some of you may ask, “What’s the point? When you’ve put that much time and effort into it, you might as well have taken the damned shower.”
To those among you I say, go screw yourself.
It was about craftsmanship, damn it. It was about caring enough to create an illusion worth believing. Yes, we were disobeying our parents. But we respected them enough to invest the energy it took to cover our tracks.
So when I hear about boys taking rides from older teammates with drivers licenses to Subway after practice, when they know that will freak their mom out, I’m not shocked that it happened. I’m shocked that Mom found out about it.
When I go into a bedroom and find 10 empty pop cans lined up in a loft behind the mattress, I’m disappointed. Not because I didn’t sneak a can (or a case) of pop into my bedroom. In fact, I’m disappointed precisely because I sneaked cases of pop into my room. And I carefully disposed of my empties. And I took it as a point of pride that my parents were never aware of the pop in the first place.
Now, let’s be clear here. I’m not blogging in favor of truly bad behavior. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. And, if parents have done their job up until this point, and if kids are worth a damn, then kids will have a moral compass. (I know, I know, I’m treading on weak ethical footing here. Just work with me, people. It’s a blog post for God’s sake.) Because, SPOILER ALERT, not everything that parents say really matters.
Here’s what I mean. When your Dad said, “Don’t touch my tools,” I guarantee you he didn’t truly care whether or not his tools got fingerprints on them. What he didn’t want was to come home and find the garage floor littered with Allen wrenches. He didn’t want to pull out the jigsaw and find all the blades broken. He didn’t want to watch the snow melt in April and find his favorite hammer, rusted, under the place where your snow fort was.
See where I’m going? Kids today don’t care enough to cover their tracks. Want to touch something you’re not supposed to touch? Put it away and we’ll probably never know you had it out!
My assumption is that it’s our fault. There’s no fear anymore. When I was little, my parents didn’t spank me often. But I think they did it just often enough to keep that specter floating out there and keep that doubt in my mind. I knew that painful consequences were possible. And it made me care enough to put some effort into my deceit. And that’s all I’m asking of kids today.
Care enough to make it look good, huh?