Friday, June 29, 2007

Poverty Schmoverty

Maybe I'll write a book on entitlement issues.  I'll go on a self-righteous rampage about my own strategy to
avoid passing on my entitlement issues and those of our Paris Hilton
obsessed youth population to my children.  I'll turn my nose up at the Mom who buys her
kid a $5 toy to quell his crying in Wal-Mart. I'll pass silent judgment tinged with envy on the Mom strutting through the
mall with her $800 stroller, dressed in couture.  Then I'll tell you about how my son cried today as we were leaving
Zoo Camp because I told him that we could not afford to buy a boat.


My entitlement-issue-avoidance strategy does not appear to be working. Actually, my strategy is more of a
pretentious soapbox that I stand on when I discuss entitlement with
others. It has no basis in reality. I rub my own ego with orations (sometimes
real, sometimes daydream debates with popular public figures) about the culture
of instant gratification and blatant materialism that plagues the youth of
America. The righteous indignation
billows out of me like smoke from a smoke stack but it has no foundation. My children have not yet started school and
they already have entitlement issues.

Exhibit A:  My son
had a conniption fit in the parking lot at Zoo camp because I had the audacity
to deny his request that our family purchase a boat.

Exhibit B: My son is
four years old and I paid $85 to send him to Zoo Camp.

Exhibit C:  My
two-year-old daughter immediately jumped on the boat bandwagon, yelling “Boat!”
at the top of her lungs in a demanding voice continually on the drive home from
Zoo Camp.

I’m no idiot. I wear
my semi-transparent cloak of righteous indignation but I know where my
children’s entitlement issues stem from. They have almost no contact with the poor. As far as they know, everyone in the world lives in their own
home, has plenty of food to eat and gets to go on vacations a couple of times a
year. My son saw a homeless man once,
standing at an intersection with a sign requesting help and he asked me about
him. I tried to explain the concept of
poverty and homelessness to him but it was not something he could wrap his head
around and I dropped it fairly quickly.

My maternal instincts tell me to shelter my children from
the realities of society. I want to
cushion their lives and make sure that all of their needs and most of their
wants are met. But is this a
reasonable strategy? Do I really have
their best interests at heart? These
are questions that I plan to ponder as I begin my new mission: make friends with some poor folks to give my
children perspective. Wish me luck!


  1. Yes, indeed. Good luck with that! Donnie and I don't have children together, but his 21 yr. old daughter, raised by her mother, sure has those issues. We often rant about the very same things vowing if we had kids how different they would be. It's easy for us to say that since we're not in the heat of the battle though, right? There are plenty of folks out there who would value your friendship and you would value theirs. Happy friend making.

  2. I think I may be getting through to Maggie that "things" cost money. The other day we were at Target and I told her she could have a "Skip It" toy. I asked if she wanted orange or purple (the two choices that were there.) She said, "I don't care - whichever doesn't cost the most money."
    Maybe when Truman reaches age 6, he will also have attained her sage-like wisdom.

  3. 21 years old, huh? Yep, that seems about right. At that age I was feeling pretty entitled myself. I did what any entitled youth does: I majored in philosophy and assumed the jobs (and the enlightenment) would come TO ME. Not the best move...

  4. Go Maggie! That's a miracle Aunt Becky.