Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Entitlement: My Arch Nemesis

I don't know if something in me has changed, or something in my daughters has changed, or if it's just the alignment of the planets, but recently I feel like I'm at war with my babies.

I've drawn a line in the sand and I am prepared to stand my ground. The prize for which I'm fighting, tooth and nail? School day mornings free from crying, fighting, kicking, screaming, and franticly peeling out of the driveway to race to make it to work on time. (The neighbors have complained about the morning screeching of tires and I've noticed people pointing curiously & whispering at all the tread marks in the street in front of my driveway...)

Recently, I hauled BabyGirl to school barefoot and in her nightgown to prove my point. "I am leaving in five minutes whether you're dressed or not." I have delicately dangled Hannah Montana over their heads to "lovingly remind them of my expectations." Today, I pulled the rug out from beneath their feet dance class.

Unfortunately for them, the warnings didn't sink in until it was too late. And then, once the deal had been sealed, they REALLY went through the roof. They kicked the volume of their hysterics up a notch (or two)....and BigGirl found the guts to confront me.

"You're just so MEAN sometimes."

Wrong thing to say. (This was also shortly after she made the mistake of asking "why" when I asked her to do something.)

"MEAN??? You don't know how GOOD you've got it, girlie!"

I proceeded to run down the laundry list of privileges my daughters enjoy on a daily basis: countless toys, nice clothes - that they get to pick out, new backpacks when they don't even need them, cool lunch boxes, dance classes, tumbling, chocolate Pop Tarts for breakfast and Oreos in their lunch. They don't do CHORES. BigGirl barely even puts her laundry away, even WITH me helping. They eat junk food and chew bubble gum. They get to wear sparkles in their hair and borrow jewelry from me and sleep in my bed with me and buy new books "just because". I fix food that they LIKE and only make them eat a few bites of things they don't like. They get to run into gas stations with us and get juice and snacks. They have it MADE.

SOME kids have chores to do and don't have a lot of toys and never get to eat Happy Meals. SOME kids don't get new school supplies or lunch boxes and can't take dance classes and get pretty hair cuts. MY mother NEVER would have let me eat junk food for breakfast, or run into a gas station and get sugary juices.

"And if I had asked MyMama 'WHY' when she asked me to do something, she would have spanked my bottom so fast I wouldn't have known it was coming!!!"

BigGirl, old enough to understand my rants, softened her anger fairly quickly. It was beginning to sink in. On the way to school, she talked about wishing dance didn't cost us money. It should be free so everyone can go. "...or at least cost like one cent!"

I know I'm not alone in this war against entitlement, but sometimes I wonder how many are really fighting on my team. Entitlement courses through our culture like the blood in our veins.

But not everyone.

This morning, I raced out from the garage -- bangs bobby-pinned back, make-up half applied -- to deliver the trash can to the trash guys. AND APOLOGIZE for being late.

I am the shopper who, upon realizing I've forgotten a bag at the register, rushes back to the store with my fingers crossed, carrying an apology on the tip of my tongue. I let my gratitude gush if they were kind enough to hold my bag.

I am the driver that, at the Clerk of Courts office this week, tried desperately to explain my way out of a citation for an expired tag. You see, I had actually renewed it prior to the day I was pulled over, but had forgotten to put the receipt and proof in my car while I waited for the tag to arrive in the mail. But, when it wasn't looking too promising for me, I said to the cashier, "Well, if it doesn't work out it's not a big deal. I WAS late I guess I EARNED this ticket." (In case you're wondering, I did get lucky in the end and only had to pay a $10 fee. Woo-hoo!)

Perhaps my own sense of entitlement began to fade after receiving a few letters from my grandmother sometime in my teenage years. She, in no uncertain terms, reminded me of my privileges in life. She reminded me that my parents worked very hard for everything we had and I, a sassy little teen, had done NOTHING to deserve the riches I enjoyed in life. NOTHING.

That stung a little....but it was so true.

And now, this morning, I stood in my kitchen and uttered those same words to my daughter. And it stung me a little still today.


  1. Entitlement was my arch nemesis while teaching. Sadly, it's the same for Hubby, who teaches students old enough to supposedly know better. It's an epidemic.

  2. I thought your Big Girl got an allowance. If she's not doing chores, what's the money for?
    We're trying harder and harder these days to teach Ladybug that the things in life she enjoys are never "free". When she scoffs at the dinner I provide I ask her if she would like to cook her own dinner. If a new toy comes in the house, an old one (or two, or a dozen) go out. We've stopped using toys as incentives and rewards, they are merely for special occasions (which i'd really prefer to eliminate one day). We didn't buy her any toys at all for her birthday, but reminded her that we were provided the party and the home-made cupcakes etc.
    There is value in actions and in rewards that are less obvious than a trip to the toy-store. And I'm determined to show my kids that their environment is what they make of it. Oh, and earning/deserving "things" is overrated.

    I'm not sure if this really has much to do with entitlement, but the intentions are similar.

    Hope your mornings start looking up.

  3. Yeah...the allowance thing was short lived and on-again, off-again. We're not too good at that.

  4. Oh your girls definitely have it easy, they're very lucky :) Sooner or later they will come around to realizing that.
    Cheer up :) And I wish you get that fuss-free, no-tires-screeching, no-girls-kicking-and-crying morning soon!


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