Yesterday, I was commuting to work on an express bus when my phone vibrated. The number of my children’s school appeared on the screen. I worriedly answered and was surprised to hear my son on the phone.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Mom, it’s Ethan.”
“I know who it is. The question is, why are you calling?”
Then, I heard the dreaded words: “It’s my ‘un-birthday’ today, and I need the munchkins here by 11:00am.”
It took awhile for me to decipher this, especially as I was whispering to hide the fact that I was breaking the social commuting rule of talking on a cell phone on an express bus before 8:00am. Apparently, children who do not have birthdays during the school year get to celebrate them during the last week of school.
I’m getting concerned about this generation. I mean, it’s one thing to have everyone win a trophy, but everyone gets to celebrate their birthday, even when it’s not their birthday? It just doesn’t even make any sense to me; it contradicts the entire morphology of the word birthday.
Outrage aside, it wasn’t really the time to explain all this to my nine-year old (although, I guess, today we are pretending he’s ten). Anyway, I tried to explain work-life balance and how his father is on jury duty and I am on my way to work and these kinds of requests need at least 24-hours notice. At this moment, none of these issues matter. He just wants his munchkins.
Is 9 (10?) years old the time when kids need to learn responsibility through disappointment? Have I failed already? In previous generations, he’d probably be responsible for a whole section of the family farm. My son can’t even remember to brig his clarinet (a phone call my husband received a couple of months ago--does the school let all kids have this kind of access to the office phone, or is my child particularly persuasive?).
The millennial generation seems to be the customer service generation, treated as important and getting what they ask for. Why should I be the bad cop here? Despite his lack of advanced planning that led to this call, I saw this little sign of independence. It was the first time he had ever called me.
After I got off the phone, the other commuters around me waited for my decision. Would I teach him a tough lesson, or would I contribute to the catered generation?
I called his nana, who agreed to take on this project. My fellow bus riders smiled and went back to sleep. This generation may grow up thinking each one of them is special and people will serve their needs, but there’s something to be said for knowing how to get what you want.
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