Posted by: zycos | September 10, 2007

Mothers, don’t eat your children!

Running an errand the other day, I drove by a somewhat modest home situated in a medium sized, newer neighborhood. I couldn’t help but notice there had to be at least 30 cars overspilling the driveway, lining both sides of the narrow residential street.

From there my eyes were directed to one of those very large, inflatable jumping rooms kids love so much nowadays. It was a commercial grade design anchored in the side yard. Next to it on an unimproved lot, was an impromptu riding corral complete with about 4 or 5 ponies and/or horses.

Both areas were filled with anxious children, impatiently waiting their turn for a ride or to take part in a group bouncing session.

Upon seeing this, I reflected on my own grandchildren’s recent birthday parties. And how ‘over-the-top’ they seemed. There were the obligatory pony rides, a pinata, a visiting clown making balloon animals and oh yes, a baby chimpanzee. This was for just one of my grandkids. The other kids respectively had their own chosen birthday themes which included a baby animal petting zoo, bounce house, more riding ponies and more. Much, much more.

Occupying almost a quarter of a very large great room were the birthday gifts. Most wrapped, some in decorator type bags with themed tissue paper sticking out and in every size, shape and colors.

The usual licensed gamut from Teletubbies to Big Bird, Barney to Dora, Nickelodeon to Hanna Montana and more were on display. Some gifts were just too big to wrap like the two seat, motorized John Deere garden tractor, complete with working, detachable dumpcart making it’s own statement with its ubiquitous green color and familiar running deer (I say leaping) logo.

This would all soon become added clutter to their already busy, dedicated playrooms filled with every toy imaginable. Matched with an outdoor, wood-constructed, jungle gym that would put many municipally-funded structures to shame, several big screen televisions throughout the house, all complete with Wii, PS3 and Xbox systems and of course, in-ground swimming pools.

Oh, did I mention these birthday affairs are always catered, big time? No one goes home hungry or without a boatload of leftovers. This last time included several 30″ pizzas, bountiful salads, pasta, chicken wings (3 varieties) and of course a large, theme decorated 50/50 sheet cake complimented by several flavors of ice cream.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my grandchildren, incredibly. Like any grandparent I want the best for them and it warms my heart to see them enjoying the best life has to offer any precocious four year old. I’m very grateful to God that my sons have been Blessed with equally successful careers, good health, loving spouses, beautiful homes and all….

BUT (you had to know that was coming)

Come on!!!

These are just birthdays! Not graduations. Not celebrations in recognition of any kind of milestone accomplishment. Birthdays!!

Undetectably shifting into Old Geezer mode…

Birthdays around our home were modest affairs with select relatives, neighbors and friends invited. Most came with only a small gift and card or just a money card of $5 and their good wishes.

The cake was homemade, usually an angel food or devil’s food. In fact, part of the fun and excitement leading up to the birthday was in helping mom decorate the cake and getting to lick the icing bowl and mixer beaters afterward.

These were typically the “in-between” birthdays. In between the big ones like Sweet Sixteen and the big bang, Twenty-First. Back then turning 16 held the driver’s license as the most coveted present and becoming of age, traditionally meant the first time alcohol was served at mom and dad’s house. At least with their consent and knowledge.

No. Birthdays were cause for celebration to be sure but not akin to winning the Powerball jackpot, Nobel Peace Prize or ending a world war.

And the most amazing part of all? Our kids accepted the simplicity of it all, having had a great birthday. They enjoyed their birthdays just as much as my grandchildren appear to like theirs today. More so, I’d say. I never saw either of my kids throw a tantrum because they didn’t get the right color or style or latest toy.

In fact, I’ve seen my sons more appreciative of receiving a small gift than my one grandchild appeared when presented with a life size mechanical pony that would ride you around the room simply by pumping the stirrups. Sidenote: Within a few days of receiving this gift, it had taken permanent occupancy in a corner of the garage, seldom, if ever, to be ridden again. Whatever happened to the ponyhead sticks? At least those required imagination and were just as much fun, if not more.

My concern and question is this: Aren’t parents raising the expectations of little Johnny or Janey too high? I mean, yes we were all ecstatic when they were born. And we greet each passing birthday with loving anticipation (and a little sadness.)

But what happens as these kids grow older and the bar gets raised for every birthday? At the current rate, they’ll have chauffeur driven limos and personal assistants before they turn twelve.

And what happens once they’re into the real world? A world where nobody gives a damn (really) about your birthday, save your mom and dad and a few close, personal friends?

Are today’s parents conditioning their kids to expect too much from life just by virtue of the fact they were born? Jeez, I mean we were all born. At what point will these kids realize the world doesn’t even care about their birthday much less owe them anything for it?

And what happens if the adult-child actually manages to accomplish something of even minor significance? What will it take to assure them as to how appreciative we all are? Nothing less than a helicoptered entrance to a globally, televised event complete with holographic performances by then long dead, The Rolling Stones, hosted by special guest, Britney Spears-Martin-Gardena-Ortega, a thrice divorced, twice recovered, middle aged, over-the-hill-but-don’t-tell-her-that, gone-diva.

I’ve recently heard it suggested from HR experts in order to keep a young adult worker motivated today, a company should throw a huge birthday party on company time just to show him/her how appreciated they are. That’s the recommendation for today. What are they going to do when my grandkids are old enough to enter the workplace?

I hope every company can accommodate it’s Gen-Y, Z, whatever employees by meeting birthday expectations with a complete Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus complete with sideshow. Maybe they can get Chuck-E-Cheese to cater it and pay Bounce-U for some fun, giant inflatable palaces.

Jeez. This definitely comes under the category of “Just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.” Please think about what you’re really doing to your kids down the road, parents (I’m using that term lightly.) You’re not helping your kids, you’re not even being good to them! Wake up and start acting like parents instead of buddies. If you don’t know how to do this, I suggest you ask your parents or better yet, your grandparents for their input and guidance.

Either that or invite me to some of these wingdings. I can’t seem to get Britney to return any of my calls.

OK. Either you agree with me or not. If not, you probably haven’t read this far and clicked to another blog thinking I’m just a bitter old fart who probably never had a birthday of my own. And you’d be wrong. I was very spoiled (albeit nothing like today’s kids) and I know how hard it was as an adult to painfully learn my true worth in the real world.

If you’re still with me, here’s your Doodle-O’Da-Day: About how I’m gonna feel when these over-indulged, pampered, spoiled brats enter the workforce.





  1. You are not a blogger…you are a writer and a very good one at that. I was speaking to a Contractor that does commercial buildings here in San Diego, a couple of months ago and he was complaining about how difficult is was to find young employees that would show up on time, dress as if they were serious about keeping their job, having any ambition and a common question was when do I get paid? Your words describe the essence of what parents are doing wrong and it will go from generation to generation. Sad for America and what this country once stood for. Personally, I can only remember two teachers that made a lasting impression on me. My mom worked for the school district as a cafeteria worker and she followed me from kindergarden to junior Hi, to High School….I finally got away from her when we move to the next town that was not in our school district. I had two brothers, one older, and one younger. We had a neighbor that lived 2 doors down and they had three daughters about our age. A big treat for us back in those days, I was about 6 years old, was to drive to Hunington Park and take the J car to the Soto Street Sears Store in Los Angeles. My neighbor and her girls with my mom and us. We were in the women’s wear department when the girls started running through the clothing racks. My mom said, “Dorothy, mind your kids.” Dorothy said, “Well how does anyone know that they are not your kids.” That was the last time we went to the Soto Street Sears with our neighbors. My mom loved us enough to dicipline us and we would not even think of doing such things. God bless her, I lost her in seven years ago. Too bad so many parents are so hell bent on giving their children everything that they can think of and not teaching responsibility that the contractor I spoke of earlier said was missing in todays youth…Not all of course, but to damn many.

  2. I see it every day, in every way… and with each successive generation, exponentially getting worse.

    Some people complain about too much government interference in our lives. I used to think that.. until I realized fewer and fewer people are taking responsibility for their own actions. Fewer still consider any consequences of such actions.

    If adults aren’t going to step up and discipline themselves and their children by example, then someone or some entity is going to enforce discipline.

    Unfortunately, that means more laws to restrict our freedoms, invade our privacy and so on. But considering our society’s plummeting social values along with the book smart-life dumb graduates from our broken school system, that may not be such a bad thing.

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