Entitlement Enschmightlement

July 15, 2009

Okay, here’s another rant I’ve had brewing in my brain for some time — this GAWD AWFUL thing called “entitlement”. I am tired of the spoiled, self absorbed attitude of many, many folks — and, ladies, I’m sorry but it seems to come more from our gender than the male gender –in this country.

I sat down today to watch some mindless drivel as a way to pull back from having to watch my son kick his own ass repeatedly over a lost wallet of his.

I turned on the TV and stopped on this show called “The Real Housewives of New York.” I said, “Hmmm…wonder what this is all about?” (I’ve seen other episodes before, but only briefly and I was gathering much needed data for an idea I had about writing a piece on self-absorbed women in their early twenties — this just happened to be the blank canvas I needed to jump start this rant of mine)

Wow, just WOW. One of the ladies — the red-headed one, “Jill” was grilling one of the other wives about her 3-year old’s “unusual name” – Francois. Apparently, in New York, people of privilege sign their children up for private school when they are newborns. Obviously, this concept has never occurred to me. I’m more of a “Public school is oh so free! Public school is fine by me!” kinda gal.

Here’s the kicker to the “Francois” story — apparently, Jill is concerned that “Francois” will get beaten up by the other kids for having such a “girly name”. Then, THEN, she recommended the mom and dad start calling him, in what I can only determine to be an incredibly crass attempt at New York-ethnocentrism: “Frank”. Really? Personally, that sounds more like the guy you call when you need your toilet tank roto-rooted. “Hire Frank! The Man With More Visible Butt Crack!”

Oh, it was on at that point. I swear, it was like watching a semi jacknife into a Smart Car that was sitting on a railroad track right before the locomotive arrived. There was no way I was going to turn away now, nuh unh.

Then came “Tales of St. Tropez”. For those of us who may never see this side of privilege, I’ll let you in on a little secret I found out today about St. Tropez. Lean in, in case you can’t hear me all that well…

Apparently there is a “rich people” and “poor people” season for visiting St. Tropez. And guess what? Jill made sure Francois’ folks knew this — they went in GASP! August, when the room rates dropped from 2,000 dollars per night down to a mere 300 dollars a night — poor people’s rates, to be sure!

Oh, the nerve!!!! The HORRORS! And just so I don’t upset you too much by this news tidbit, I will gladly leave out the whole lesson I learned about visiting the Hamptons. (You’re welcome, by the way)

THIS is what is wrong with America, and damn it, I have to say something, before my head explodes. I am so sick (and tired ha ha ha) of vapid, vacuous and insanely wealthy people flaunting their lavish and purposeless lifestyles in my face. Sure I can switch to the nature channel, turn off the TV, or stop reading the tabloids, but it’s still out there. I see it all around me — the teenage girls with the perfectly coiffed hair and French manicured nails, wearing designer clothing, carrying expensive handbags and talking on 400 dollar IPhones their mommy and daddy bought them because they wanted to “be their friend and give them everything their own parents didn’t at that age”.

Parents, YOU are responsible for this. You’ve overindulged your children since the day they popped out, and have given them every thing they need or want. All they had to do was say “Wahhhh” and it was theirs.You’ve decided their self esteem and self confidence should be based on material things, instead of teaching them that hard work, determination, persistence, and tenacity pay off. What 14-year old needs 12 pairs of thong underwear? What 12-year old needs designer jeans? What 3rd grader needs a cell phone? Are you out of your freaping minds, mom and dad????

STOP! LEARN TO SAY NO EVERY NOW AND THEN, will you? Then maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to spend any more of my purposeful life watching women piss and moan about how they haven’t been given a “front row seat” at the “latest New York fashion show”. Boo freapin’ hoo.

Now, excuse me while I try to figure out how to pay my latest round of bills with the pittance my husband and I work our asses off to earn.


One of Life’s Lessons

July 14, 2009

Hoo boy, this one’s a toughie. My heart just aches for my son today. Two days ago, he turned sixteen. He is a great kid — plays the violin (an “orchadork” as he refers to himself) and ice hockey. He wanted a birthday party – so we held this big birthday bash, invited his hockey and neighbor buddies over and had a great time.

With all the cards, some from out of town relatives, he earned a good amount of money. He bugged me yesterday to let him drive to a store to buy more ammo for his air soft gun (see: role reversals post), but wasn’t able to find what he wanted, so he came home empty-handed. He was intending to go out today to get what he needed.

Last night, he had to go to weight training for hockey. He took his wallet out of his workout shorts and put it on a table in the high school weight room.

And forgot it was there. Until this morning.

Sadly, when we called the high school and spoke to the athletic director, he conducted a search of the area and never found it.

My son is heartbroken, and I don’t blame him. He lost all his birthday money and his temporary permit to drive.  The permit is easily replaceable, but I’m afraid he won’t be getting his money back any time soon. Unless one of the other hockey players or coaches picked it up and took it with him last night, it’s gone. This morning the weight room was swarmed by the high school football players who think all the high school hockey players are complete losers.

Unfortunately, this is one time I have to sit back and allow him to hurt. He’s old enough now to be held responsible for his actions, and he knows I am not going to bail him out and give him the money he lost. As tough a decision this is for me, I need to let him fail in order to let him learn.

He’s a smart kid, a great kid, and I’m sure he will never let something like this happen again.

In the grand scheme of things, I look at it with a “the glass is  still full” frame of mind: he isn’t coming to me this morning and saying “Mom, I accidentally killed someone last night when I chose to drink and drive.”

Yes, he is definitely a great kid.

A Tale of Twisted Roles

July 13, 2009

Yesterday was my son’s 16th birthday — sixteen! Well, enough bragging on him, let me get to task.

Now that he has started driving (temps still– no license yet, whew!) he has been given the task of toodling us around town, doing various errands to earn his mandatory 50 hours of drive time with a parent along.  Today, he got to drive to an unsavory part of town to return a huge grill we rented for his big birthday bash. He did great, but then halfway home said “Hey, since I’m driving anyways let’s go to Sports Authority so I can buy a magazine for my new air soft gun” Well, as much as I didn’t want to go, I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before I had to give in and take him anyways (less than 24 hours and his birthday money was already burning a hole in his pocket — sheesh)

I halfheartedly agreed, and off we went to the opposite side of town. And that was when the scene shifted and I found myself in the Freaky-Friday role switch of a “teenager” and, interestingly enough, suddenly craving a bag of Now and Later hard candies. Before I realized it, I heard myself whining “Well, I only want to go to Walmart if you promise to buy me a bag of Now and Laters.”

Whoa…did I REALLY just say that? REALLY?

Way too little, way too late

July 10, 2009

People, can we talk again? Apparently, the situation with Michael Jackson’s untimely death has taken another perverse turn. Now all of a sudden, people are streaming out of  their respective hidey-holes to spill the beans on Jackson’s “alleged” excessive drug use. CNN.com reports that he supposedly took “10 Xanax” a night. Ten? That sounds like enough to take down a fully-grown buffalo. If that is true, how can one frail human being survive that kind of dosage? Which, of course is what the police want to know.

Here’s what I want to know…WHY didn’t anyone within Jackson’s circle try harder to get him the help he so desperately needed? Where were they when he was still alive?

One person after another is coming forward now — NOW — to say “Well, when I was a (insert lackey name here) working at Neverland, I saw him take (insert name of drug here) every day for (insert length of time here)” Okay, Mr. Lackey, that’s all well and good, but maybe, perhaps, you should have spoken up THEN instead of now? Did that little nugget of a “really good idea”  ever enter your mind?

Yes, I know that people are ultimately responsible for the choices they make. But, we’re talking about a man who was allegedly taking so many pills he had to have numerous doctors in numerous states write him numerous prescriptions. At what point did the doctors decide it was “okay” to prescribe such large amounts without ever thinking “Ya know, this is a lot of medication for one individual — perhaps I should say something.” And if the press reports are accurate, what about all the other employees — the ones who worked side by side with him and went to retrieve these pills — where is their responsibility in this?

Yes, yes you should have said something. To someone. Again and again. I would have started with a simple, two letter word — “No.” Followed up with, “You need help now. Let’s get you that help.”

I cannot reiterate often enough how our unwillingness to say “No, I will not enable you. You need help” to someone involved with a life-threatening addiction will cause them trouble every time. In Jackson’s case, not only could it have played a key role in his death, but now several doctors are under investigation for criminal behavior. Good — I say “prosecute and send them to jail, if found guilty.” Get them off the street and away from other patients – they don’t deserve to be practicing medicine because apparently the Hippocratic Oath of  “At first do no harm” means nothing to them.

There comes a time when a person needs to have the integrity and honor to say “I WILL NOT ENABLE YOU. I CARE TOO MUCH”.

It’s too late for Jackson. Now let’s go save Lindsey Lohan. And please — don’t start with her mother — she hasn’t learned how to say “no” yet.

Unsung Heroes Revisited

July 9, 2009

In the United States, ice hockey has often been considered one of the most violent and aggressive sports. Television and newspaper reports will invariably show snippets of two players pushing, shoving and hitting each other. While this makes for good entertainment, it creates a negative impression of the sport and those who compose it. Unfortunately, many of the uplifting, positive things the players of the National Hockey League do for their communities off ice go largely unspoken and unnoticed. In 2000, the community of Columbus, Ohio, was given the opportunity for change through the hard work and determination of one man – John McConnell.

Even before the first fans entered the doors, the anthem was sung and the inaugural puck was dropped at Nationwide Arena, change was already taking a foothold. John McConnell, owner of Worthington Industries and majority owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets, had a directive for his new, NHL expansion franchise: “Help your community by giving back what you can.” He set out to build the team around this concept. He recruited existing players from other NHL teams who were already involved in programs within their current communities. He searched for young, promising, talented players who remembered their own roots; realizing they too achieved only through the dedication from others – their families, their former coaches, and even their former teammates.

One player, Tyler Wright, heard Mr. McConnell’s message loud and clear. Tyler had a history of visiting children stricken with cancer. Unbeknownst to his teammates, he would go to the area’s local children’s hospital, and spend time with them. When Mr. McConnell asked his newly organized team for ideas on how to continue the NHL’s overall theme of “Hockey Fights Cancer”, Tyler stepped up. He created a program called “Hats for Heroes”. By selling specially designed, autographed ball caps, money was raised to support the research and fight against pediatric cancer.

The “Hats for Heroes” program is only a fraction of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation’s four-part mission: pediatric cancer, education, children’s health and safety and, youth and amateur hockey development.

Tyler Wright’s role on the team has since changed. Now the CBJ’s Player Development Coach, Tyler no longer plays professional hockey. However, many of the Columbus Blue Jackets players have adopted their former teammate’s attitude and taken up the cause: Rick Nash, Jason Chimera, Jared Boll, Manny Malhotra, R.J. Umberger, and Steve Mason are just a portion of the players who go out into the community regularly to meet with children, spend time talking to them and spread the message of “giving back”.

What makes the value of the players’ commitment to this mission so important to understand is this: none of them are contractually obligated to do what they do. They do not ask to get paid for their time, nor do they seek media attention for their actions. They take time out of their very busy schedules to spend several hours with other people’s children solely because they believe in “giving back to the community that has lovingly embraced them”.

Sadly, on April 25, 2008, Mr. McConnell passed away at the age of 84. While his strong presence is greatly missed by the entire Columbus Blue Jackets organization, he died knowing that his legacy of change will continue through the combined efforts of the employees of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation and the individual team members of the Columbus Blue Jackets Organization.

How much more definition of the title, “Hero” does one need?

The Death of “No”

July 7, 2009

The death of “No”

I’d like to talk about a simple, two-letter word that is rapidly disappearing from the mouths of people everywhere. Once a powerful word, filled with substance, conviction and principle, it has since been demoted into wimpy phrases like “well, maybe”, “Sure, why not?” or, the most popular phrase of all “Ask me later.” If you aren’t sure what I mean by this, let’s take a look at how the word “no” has all but disappeared from parenting terminology. Case in point – cell phones and the teenager.

First, I admit I have a cell phone. I swore I’d never get one myself, using the old, tired phrase “I didn’t own one when I was a teenager and seemed to have survived just fine without it”. But, one day inching home from work, in a heavy snowstorm with limited visibility, I decided “it would be a great idea to have a cell phone ‘just in case’ I end up in a snow bank.” So, I dragged my husband to the local cell phone store and forced him to add me to his account. I wasn’t interested in the latest gadgetry – no need for a flip phone, or taking pictures, fancy buttons and applications, blah blah blah. I just wanted something I could have with me in case I needed to dial 911. So, I went for the “free phone” with the plan addition. I was “good to go”.

Of course this didn’t satisfy me for long. The one thing I couldn’t stand was the phone’s rigidity. Since it was big and bulky, it didn’t fit well in the side of my purse. Every time I picked my purse up and began to carry it, I’d accidentally hit the “auto dial” button and end up calling my husband, or the kids at home. They wouldn’t hear anything on the other end, except for an occasional swish from the movement of my purse. And, it kept running up minutes without my realizing it.

After a year or two of dealing with this, and some prodding from my son about how “flip phones are way better”, I went to a flip phone style – still the cheapest phone on the market, but at least it bends and I can tuck it into my purse without fear of dialing China. I also had the ability to take pictures, which of course my daughter immediately realized and, imagine my surprise, began taking countless pictures of our dog in various poses and places inside our house. Of course this chewed up my phone’s batteries and really began to piss me off. Repeated reminders “STAY AWAY FROM MY PHONE!” fell on deaf ears.

Soon the pleadings began, “Mom, if I can’t use your phone, can’t I just get one of my own?” “No, what does a 10-year old need with a cell phone?” “But maaaaa…If I had my own phone, I wouldn’t need to use your phone’s batteries all up!” Well, that’s true. But, logic and reason overruled, and I quickly countered with “How about you just don’t use my phone AT ALL? Besides, where are you going to be that I am not going to know about – since I drive you there?”

When my son started high school hockey, I briefly reconsidered purchasing him his own cell phone. Not because I wanted him to “join the other twelve million kids with cell phones”, but because of the school bus rides. He had to take the high school’s bus to and from games, and it gave him a chance to call us a few minutes before the bus arrived back at school so we could rush out and meet him back at school. For away games, we could call and find out if his team had won or not. This was one of those moments when I realized my teenager having a cell phone was, in fact, a great idea. At the last minute, however, I decided he could just take my phone with him and call us with that. Problem solved, conscience and principles still intact.

Interestingly enough, I approached him with the idea of letting him purchase his own cell phone. He had proven to be responsible enough with my cell phone (unlike his little sister) and would use it accordingly. Well, two things changed that – one, he himself admitted he would probably run up outrageous text charges (got to admire his honesty for admitting that), and two, he began receiving inappropriate text messages from his friend. That ended THAT idea real quick. He was back to using my phone. Not only that, but I also removed the ability to text from my phone. Hah!

But now, his world is getting bigger. He turns 16 this Sunday, and has begun driving. He is proving to be a very responsible driver – thankfully.  We might have to learn how to add a “w” to the word “no”, and give him his own phone to use as he wants. This time, we’ll get unlimited text messaging capabilities.

Raise your voice, find your pulse!

July 6, 2009

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