Scenes from a Birthday

Yeah, it’s that time of year. It kind of snuck up on me again. For most of my life I’ve been used to it being over 100℉ when it’s time to light the candles on my cake, and living in Denver—or even in San Francisco for that matter—I never got the usual seasonal clues.

I’ve reached the age where birthdays aren’t as big a thing as they once were; they’re more a realization that I’ve simply managed to survive another trip around the sun and that I’m one year closer to retirement.

That being said, this year will be a memorable one. After I initially located it (may the FSM bless the internets with his noodly appendages!), Ben managed to acquire the one gift I’ve been wanting for many, many months: the German language soundtrack of The Nightmare Before ChristmasEver since I first stumbled across the This is Halloween on YouTube years ago (that I regularly repost here on the holiday) I was hooked and wanted more, more, MOAR!

I had three years of German in high school and an additional two in college. At that point I was relatively fluent, but over the years it’s faded. Back in 2007 or so I dived back in, getting out all my old textbooks and realized I hadn’t forgotten as much as I’d feared. At one point I even connected with a nurse at the hospital I where I was working at the time who was a native speaker, but just when my skills were getting decent—or at least passable—again, she left for parts unknown.

Even though my auditory vocabulary is once again failing me and at best I can only glean bits and pieces of spoken (reading is slow, but as long as I have a dictionary at hand I can manage) German now, that doesn’t mean I still don’t love the sound of the language, and discovering that there actually was an entire  German language soundtrack available to one of my favorite movies literally made me squeal.

And for the occasion of this birthday, we also chose to support a local restaurant, The Creek Seafood GrillDelicious is an understatement. I had the Cioppino, and Ben had the scallops. Both dishes were incredible. We’ll definitely be returning. Afterward we stopped by Milk&Cake, where I got as much of a birthday cake as I wanted or needed:

Common Sense is Dead and the Educational System in This Country is Broken

And I think this is something that people on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on—although perhaps for different reasons.

This is something I’ve been mulling for quite some time. My sister is an educator, and for years I’ve heard her displeasure with the “teaching for the test” mentality permeating public education, but actually never really got a clear understanding of how it all worked until Ben and I got together. Marrying a teacher provided an insight to the public school system that has given me a very clear picture of just how broken things are.

But it can’t all be blamed on the schools and their lack of preparing children for the real world. Irresponsible parenting is also to blame. I find it funny how the God-Guns-One-Man-One-Woman crowd are always braying that gays make bad parents—yet I’ve yet to see children of same-sex parents running wild in public as I see on a nearly daily basis from so called “normal” marriages.

I was raised at a time when if you misbehaved, either in private or—god forbid—in public, you paid the price. CPS was not called in when a parent actually chose to spank their child for inappropriate behavior, and I think that my parents’  generation did a fine job of raising us. I’ll tell you, once I got smacked, I was much less likely to do whatever it was that prompted my legitimate disciplining, that’s for sure. I’m not quite so sure I would’ve learned that lesson had I simply been given a “time out.”

Parents now are more concerned with being their child’s friend than actually being a parent; someone who guides them into adulthood. And society as a whole has become so paranoid that if they could get away with it, I’m sure they’d mandate wrapping children in layers of bubble wrap from the moment they emerge from the womb until they reach adulthood lest anything happen to bruise their delicate, delicate egos. But I wonder…by protecting children to the point of absurdity and rewarding them for simply showing up, are we raising an entire generation of sociopaths?

This article is what prompted this post. So many salient points were raised by this mother that I constantly found myself nodding in agreement.

A small excerpt:

Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys. You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they’d find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc – and pretend it was a gun. Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.

There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money. There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this). Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party. And Sally – phew! She should be jailed! She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.

Modern parenting and thinking makes me crazy. The young generations of today (yes, I sound old. I realize I’m only 29 years old.) are being taught that they shouldn’t have to ever put up with anything doesn’t make their hearts feel like rainbow colored unicorns are running around pooping skittles onto piles of marshmallows.

Modern parenting is creating a generation that’s not going to be able to function in society.

Your child, who you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things “evil.” How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood? “Debbie” graduates from high school and goes to college. She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it’s junk and it will get a failing grade. How will Debbie cope with that if she’s always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?

“Donna” graduates from college and gets a job – you know, in the real world. She has to work on a committee to come up with a marketing plan. She shoots out an idea, and it gets immediately turned down. What is she to do? Go home and cry because no one liked her idea? Quit her job because she can’t handle rejection?

Even the comedian Josh Wolf touched on this in his book, It Takes Balls: Dating Single Moms and Other Confessions from an Unprepared Single Dad:

Everyone can’t be perfect and the sooner you learn that in life, the better off I think you’ll be. Kids get an inflated view of themselves…because of their parents. They have a sense of entitlement….because of their parents. They treat other people like servants…because of their parents. “But we’re just trying to raise a positive person who can contribute to society.” That sounds like a good idea; why don’t you do that. Because right now you’re raising little assholes who can’t solve problems and who expect people to do everything for them.

This sense of entitlement; this lack of consideration toward other people ingrained into the last generation of Americans is something I witness every day. Whether it’s the assholes who aren’t paying attention to their driving and think they can shoot across three lanes of traffic so they don’t miss their turnoff to the people who “just have a quick question” and cut in front of you in line or the shoppers who bring 20 items to a “10 items or less” checkout, it’s all the same. It’s all about them, because that’s the way they were raised. These are concrete examples that giving everyone a gold star simply for showing up is not the way to raise and educate our children.

And the worst part? No one ever calls them on it.

When I was in grade school, at the end of every quarter we’d have a little ceremony in the auditorium when awards were handed out. They could be for any number of things, whether it was for math, or spelling, or reading, or god-forbid-you’d-ever-see-this-now, citizenship. I remember one year I received a first or second-quarter award for something (probably spelling, because I was reasonably good at it). It was a certificate with a clown juggling four balls. If you got the award four quarters in a row, you’d get a little rainbow spray of stickers along with the gold ball for the final quarter, indicating that you went above and beyond for the entire school year. That particular year, I only earned a single blue ball on whatever quarter that was, and I was devastated that didn’t receive any more that year. But you know what? The next year I tried much harder to improve and I came away with two colored balls. I never did earn that gold ball, but I learned that if you want to be recognized and rewarded, you have to work at it. Sadly, it appears that attitude is now as extinct in schools—and society—as is common sense.

Which brings me to the next point.

Common sense. Not only is it not being taught in schools, it’s apparently not being taught at all. And with social media constantly amplifying and rewarding acts of stupidity, I fear it is quickly becoming a lost art.

When I was in school and you misbehaved, you were disciplined. Sometimes that meant you sat on a chair just outside the classroom and didn’t do anything until the teacher decided you had calmed down enough to rejoin the class. Other times it involved being locked in the supply closet. For real transgressions, however, you were sent to the Principal’s Office, where your fate wasn’t just a call to your parents; it meant a paddling. While I was never sent, I know from classmates who were that one trip was all it took for you to get your life in order.

Common sense also revolved around the school nurse. If you got sick, you went to the nurse. There you’d get real medical care, not just having ice applied as is apparently the current modus operandi. Ice? Really? Why bother having a nurse on staff at all?

And apparently a child can’t even bring necessary, prescription meds to school any longer? Who the fuck came up with that rule?

Someone, somewhere, has got to stand up and say, “Enough!” The stupidity has to end.

I came from a generation who rode bicycles without helmets. Sometimes we broke bones. We got immunized so we wouldn’t come down with measles or chicken pox or the mumps. We drank from the fucking garden hose. We were taught geography and history in school. For the unlucky few who just couldn’t or wouldn’t get it, they were held back a year (rare as it was, it did happen on occasion, and was always held over our heads as the ultimate deterrent).

And I think for the most part my generation turned out okay. It’s just too bad so many of us turned out to be such horrible parents, unleashing on the world an entire generation of children—now adults—who think the world owes them a living and have passed and amplified that belief onto their children.

I have no answers or cures for any of these ills. I am simply an observer wondering how our society can continue on its present course and not turn into anything other than what was warned of in Idiocracy.