August 2, 2001

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if grandma and grandpa really had to walk uphill the whole way to and from school back in the good ole days? You know what I'm talking about, that time tested tradition of our elders telling us how much better we have it than they did.

While I have not had to use this line of argument yet with my youngster, I have to admit I was not surprised at all when I read a recent article in Time magazine. The article was based on a poll of American adults and questioned how they felt children of today behaved. The overwhelming results were that our children are spoiled. Now most of us don't need a national poll to tell us this fact, but it is interesting to see how kids are perceived today.

The poll indicated two-thirds of Americans feel like their children are spoiled. Okay grandparents out there are you reading this? This may not have been as obvious for me if this news release had not come just a week after my daughter's second birthday. This kid raked in the booty like a plundering pirate ship. She got video tapes, a toy train, an action back pack and toy camping equipment, a miniature picnic table, a full kitchen set and about 101 other toys. I was thinking to myself that this kid might be getting a little overwhelmed. Then when the grandparents made the same types of comments followed by some additional words from Abi's great-grandmother about so many gifts, I knew we were get dangerously close to using the term spoiled.

However, in Abi's defense she didn't fit much of the other criteria of the poll. The report indicated that 75-percent of Americans feel like today's kids have fewer chores and household tasks to perform. While she is only two, that doesn't keep our kid from pitching in around home and at work. Her favorite task is to clean up trash. If there is a scrap of paper or an old newspaper or magazine with in reach she has it wadded up and headed to the trash can. Admittedly this is a trait that she gets from her mother, who is more than happy to turn the little trash collector loose in my den or on my desk at work.

Unfortunately she slips right back to the spoiled side of the poll as she fits the mold of the 48-percent response that kids play too big a role in the making of family decisions.

Last night was a prime example as the wife and I sat down to watch a movie and enjoy a little relaxation. About 10 minutes into our film we were informed by a screaming, tantrum-throwing two-year old that our video selection did not meet her standards. Instead of the premier of Tom Hanks acclaimed Castaway, a movie we had both been waiting on for weeks, we got to watch Elmo and the Sesame Street gang teach us how to draw and use the phone for the fifteen-thousandth time.

After reviewing all these statistics I have become a little more interested in another report that I saw in the news last week, the one on spanking your kids. I may have to look into that study pretty soon as with child #2 due in November it looks like have lots more to look forward to. You see the Time poll noted that one of the biggest problem area between kids and parents often centered around sibling conflicts (52-percent). That ranked second only to cleaning your room, a problem I don't anticipate having with Mrs. Cleaner Lady. She is so caught up in picking up things that she stopped between opening presents at her birthday party so that she could throw all the wrapping paper in the trash. Typically at a two-year-old's birthday party there is a whirling-dervish of present opening with trash flying everywhere. Granted, she may be spoiled but at least she is a unique kind of spoiled.

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