A full grocery cart and a few preschoolers. Seems harmless enough. But look more closely and you will see the forming of a generation of entitlement or a generation with boundaries.
How often have you gone to the grocery store or supercenter with your kids or watched a mother struggle through the aisles with hers? It’s not for the faint of heart. It takes an exceptional amount of patience and some careful planning around mealtimes and naps. I navigated those hallowed halls of consumerism many times when my kids were little. I braced myself for meltdowns, had my sweet little muffin paged over the intercom as she gleefully wove her way through clothes racks and toy piles, swatted the behinds of a naughty toddler while someone else’s grandmother looked on with a silent show of solidarity. I’ve been there. And I chose often to NOT go there. If it was within my power and ability to do so, I would wait till my hubby got home and tackle the aisles on my own. But sometimes, it was a necessary trip that had to be made. And with it came a gentle reminder to all of my little minions that one outburst, one whining complaining request for something and we would leave. The thing about threats is, well, you have to follow through. You have to. You can’t put it out there and let them test you. Because they will. Oh yes, they will test you more than once.
“Does she mean it?”
SHE is Mom. And yes, she does mean it. I left a cartload of groceries once or twice. Not a fun thing to do. Spending an hour struggling with snowsuit clad kidlets, grabbing what is necessary for the day, trying to get to checkout 6 before that lady with the extra full cart…not fun. But, I said it. And I meant it. Being in public is not a right, it’s a privilege. Being on your best behaviour in someone else’s space is priority. What? Someone else? Yes. When we go out, we have crossed the threshold of our lax, I-can-do-anything-I-want world into the world where we respect other people’s space, their ability to carry on a conversation without competing for air time and their right to be comfortable, peaceable and respected.
And now, as my kids have grown, we’ve had to develop new boundaries. No longer do I worry about mid-aisle meltdowns. But we have a new enemy to conquer. The enemy of words. Very often I can have any one of my four kids demanding to be heard. They want something, need something. They must have my attention. Life is urgent and issues come up. In a hurried,bumbling, over-spillage of unconstrained language the words will come out but I will not hear. There is no way to hear. It is too loud. It is too aggressive, too mixed-up and too long to make sense of. I cannot hear what you are trying to say because your words have become like sandpaper on my smooth skin. I send them back. Back to their rooms. Back to their thoughts. Back to the basics.
What is it that you are trying to say? What is your point? Do you need to tell me all of the “he-saids” and “she-saids”? Do you? Is it important to what YOU really want me to hear? Make it simple. Make it concise and come back when you can be calm and clear.
There. That’s better.
Words. They’re wonderful when they’re used right. But they’re just annoying when you throw them out without thinking. Like a toddler in a grocery cart who wants all the candy, all the toys, all the snacks and everything else….that is what a teenager, a pre-teen, an occupier sounds like. You have a point? Make it clear. Say it calmly and state it with conviction not screaming, whining, aggression. I am not your enemy. I want to hear what you have to say. But there are boundaries.
Boundaries. In a world that preaches FREEDOM OF…..
Freedom of speech, YES! But that doesn’t mean you can say whatever, whenever, wherever. No, it does not. It means you have the right to speak and if you’re smart, you’ll make your words count. But it doesn’t mean that anyone has to listen. Freedom of speech is abused. It has been used to harm, to hurl insults, to degrade, to condemn. The boundaries of what is appropriate to say and when have been washed away by entitlement.
Freedom to assemble, YES! But those who think they can go wherever, whenever, for however long they wish have also missed the point. I want to be free to gather in my home, in my church, in a park…as is my right. But when I overstep that privilege; that freedom, I have taken the freedom away from others to do the same. If you are taking up park space indefinitely, you have effectively rubbed out my rights and freedom to be there temporarily, right? Let’s be reasonable, I don’t think anyone wants screaming, poopy toddlers occupying the grocery aisles of every store in North America indefinitely. A few minutes is probably over-stepping. Do they have a “right” to be there? Sure, I guess you could argue that. But where do rights end and privilege start? This is the question no one is asking.
I feel bad for the occupiers. I really do. The I-want-to-kick-their-rears part of me is not as concerned as the mom part of me. Where are the mothers? Where are the parents? Why didn’t any of these people learn how to make their point without making a mess? Where is the respect for others? I mean, that’s what they want , isn’t it? Respect? I don’t know. Maybe they don’t want to be respected. They’re definitely doing a poor job of making themselves respectable.