Thursday, August 09, 2007

Teach Your Children Well

I try to do the right thing, and I like to think that, for the most part, I make proper decisions and follow a certain code of ethics that defines me as a worthy member of society, a contributing thread in the fabric of modern civilization. In the past I’ve given into the easy way, the path of least resistance, but I have found that, as my kids get older and as they start taking on more responsibility in this world, that I have become more fastidious in my resolve to show them the right way through life.

Other people, not so much it seem. And what bothers me most, isn’t what course of life they choose for themselves or what kind of burden they have become for everyone else, but that they are teaching their children their same lazy, sordid ways.

I often joke, taking a line from Homer Simpson, that we have kids so we can teach them to hate the things we hate, and part of that is rather true. We try to impart on them a specific set of values and hopefully they will take those values and make a moralistic profit in this world.

Despite what others do.

We make a habit to teach Natalie how to speak properly, act accordingly in public, eat properly, show good manners, respect nature, appreciate the hard work of others, recognize that shouldn’t expect to be handed everything they want just because they think they deserve it.

For our 10th anniversary today, Kara and I took the kids with us to Chili’s for dinner and then to the bookstore. While Kara and Matthew were off doing something else, I was sitting with Natalie reading her a My Little Pony book on the short benches in the kids’ section of the store. Nearby were other parents doing the same, as they were waiting for StoryTime to begin (a staff member reads kids books to a gaggle of squirmy little Chatty Cathys while their parents glaze over for 20 minutes or so). To my left, over Natalie’s shoulder was another father reading a book to his daughter. She looked about Natalie’s age, maybe a little younger. With him, he had a regular sized soda in a typical to-go cup with a straw, and by the sound of the ice clanking against the cup, it was about half full.

He took a few sips from it from time to time and then set it down, and the way he set it down, pushed way into the corner of the bookshelf, almost out of reach, told me that he was going to leave it there because he’s too damn lazy to find a trashcan. The little girl picked it up and handed it to him, saying, “Daddy, you can’t leave it here.” He took it from her and held it for a few moments before putting it back in the corner, adding, “Leave it alone.”

She kept looking at it while he wandered off to do whatever it is partially deadbeat dads do in the children’s section of the bookstore. The little girl sat there and read a book and then pick up the stack of books and with it the soda.

Good for her. Really, good for her.

What is that guy thinking? There are plenty of trashcans in the store, I’m sure. They sell coffee and Danishes, so I’m sure they’d have a trashcan or two about. Oh, I get it, he’s just a lazy slob who’d rather inconvenience someone else to pick up his trash instead of doing it himself. I’m sure he’s the same kind of person who flicks cigarettes out in National Forests, and I’m sure bags of fast food trash inexplicably end up at the stoplight of a freeway off-ramp.

One of my largest pet peeves, my biggest hates, something I will surely impart onto Natalie and Matthew as they get older, is that littering is one of the most despicable personal traits that anyone could ever possess. It disrespects everyone and anyone who sees it and especially the person who has to clean it up.

In the end, I hope that maybe that guy learned a little something about the responsibility of being a father and maybe a little something about his little girl. However, and this may be the irony of the situation, but I hope that she learned a little about her father, but not enough to make him look bad in her eyes. After all, a random piece of trash on the floor doesn’t make him a bad father, just a really lazy one.

You know what they say, he who hasn’t sinned be the first to cast a stone.

Ahem, I’ve never littered in my life…ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess we did well in your training on this subject while you were growing up! -- Mom


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