The Pez annual Easter Egg Hunt for Children, in Connecticut had to be cancelled. It wasn’t because of “the kids these days” either. Nope, it was because of the people in charge of raising “the kids these days” – their parents.
Adults suck because they are always painting their own agendas, fears, insecurities, beliefs, etc . . . all over the innocence and fun of children. Children are capable of running and playing and having fun with all the other kids. They win, they lose, they share. When they don’t share, the natural consequences of the herd take care of that. The other kids stop wanting to play with you until you learn to share. No-one gets killed or trampled in the process, you just learn that “friends” require give and take.
This Easter, one family of grandkids arrived at our home for an Easter egg hunt. It contained an older sister and 3 very close in age, very aggressive, very male, little boys. They ranged in age from 2 – 5 and are constantly competing for all things life. As they ran back and forth on the lawn finding their eggs to put in their “baskets” there were shouts of happiness and good natured taunting. There was some impromptu racing for the egg spied across the yard in the birdbath, a little bit of shoving, but mostly laughing. In the end, all tired and sweaty, proud of their efforts, they handed over their eggs to be put into the fridge to keep them from melting. No-one cared about counting who had the most. In the end, when they came out of the fridge, the children wanted them divided between them all, regardless of who had found them. Kids are capable of a heck of a lot of decent human behaviour when the adults can just back off and not project all their own crap all over them.
Today, winning is everything. Winning at any cost is viewed as strength. We admire who wins, no matter how they did it and what the consequences for others is. It used to be important to teach children to be strong, to work hard, to earn their victories. Today earning the victories is all that matters and when parents do that, it encourages children to cheat, to lie, and to bully. Instead of working on themselves, they work on destroying their competition. Those who pause to obey the rules are considered losers, who most often end up with nothing, not even the respect of society.
Go to any sporting event or art competition and it is the parents who need to be controlled. In fact, sometimes it would make more sense to have the officials stand among the audience instead of among the participants on the floor, on the stage, in the field, or at the adjudicators table. It is the parents who wind up their kid to see the other competitors, not as human beings also trying to do their best – people with talent and investment into their chosen pursuit, but as the enemy who need to be annihilated.
Parents teach kids how to interpret the world around them and they model for them the actions that are appropriate. They do that in the way they speak and interact with other people in their own lives, and the language they use, and the actions they condone or encourage with their children.
Parents teach their kids to bully.
That is why a parent is often the worst person to consult when another child has been victimized because the only response you are going to get is the parent being defensive and protective of their child. They do that because the child is an extension of themselves. THEY feel threatened by being called on their child’s behaviour. You have just triggered the very emotions that cause a parent to use a child as a weapon or a second chance at greatness. You are now an enemy or an obstacle to what they want, not a parent who is reaching out to a contemporary and trying to work together to help your children. It is inconceivable to them that you might actually be acting in the best interest of their child or doing them a favour because THEY don’t put their own children’s needs ahead of their own. It is all about them. They vacated the idea that they are responsible to teach and raise their child to be an effective human being, long ago.
Parents use their kids for one last kick at the can. They use them for one last kick at a world that did not deliver for them, all that was promised. We see kids pushed to the max to gain fame or success, for the parents sake. We see kids, whose parents will even lie in court to keep them from dealing with the consequences of their actions. We see parents who are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their kids are in front of the line, get the best seat, the biggest piece of the pie.
The most surprising part of the Connecticut story is not that it happened. It is that all those parents, knowing they would probably be caught on camera, felt comfortable enough, in their own community, to act in that way. It is that once a couple of people broke the barrier, they all just joined in. It is that there were not enough parents in that crowd who were able to stand up and say “hey stop it” and have any impact on the number of parents that joined in rushing for the eggs. It is that they were not just concerned about getting eggs for their child (themselves) but that THEY (the parents) were willing to injure other children to do it.
For Easter Eggs.
Think about that for a moment, and what it really says about us, and our priorities.
Then ask yourself what chance the kids are going to have, to grow up, with any moral compass that is going to facilitate their being a healthy contributing member of society? In an adult world where every adult has an expectation of being the best or first, and there are no rules that they will obey . . . aren’t we all just in each other’s way?