another in a series of re-posted blogs, because you haven’t seen them. this one is from about 3 1/2 years ago…
As I drive to work each morning from 6:30 to 8, I pass various residential settings. Along Atlantic County Road 575 there is a pair of trailer parks with half a dozen kids standing curbside, if there is a curb, as the school bus approaches. A similar group of children, a range of ages, stands in the driveway of an inexpensive motel on state highway 322, likely a location at which the state sets up as low-income housing during the non-summer season. Before I get to those places, I pass two suburban developments and a stretch of farmland.
First come the McMansions of the developments with once-clever outdoorsy names like “Deer Run,” “Dillon’s Creek,”and “Waterstone.” Announced by gold-lettered signs, the entrances of those subdivisions are clogged with SUV’s and crossovers, engines idling and spitting a stream of carbon monoxide into the precious atmosphere. Inside sit silent parents listening to an AM news station as the children are plugged into their Ipods and listen to collections of sounds that they believe are actually songs. September to June, regardless of downpour or wondrous and warm sunrise, these children are sheltered both physically and emotionally by their loyal parents until the bus comes rolling along.
A mile down the road is a gravel path that leads to a farmhouse partially hidden by the early growth of next year’s “live and cut Christmas trees.” Each morning, six or seven high-school kids stand where the rocks meet the road and watch for the same school bus that had been waiting for the other kids to crawl out of Mom or Dad’s SUV. The farm kids are different. They’re not plugged into iPods, and their parents aren’t driving back up to the house with the kids’ empty coffee cups. The farm kids talk. They interact. They play “catch” with hacky sacks. When it rains, they get wet. When it’s cold, they bundle up. When there’s something beautiful on the horizon, they see it.
They also see life. They see work, and they deal with problems, maybe feeling the residual, “trickle-down effects” of a poor economy while the kids up the road will still get Mom’s credit card and BMW to drive to the mall at will. The farm kids might get to college, and if they do, they’ll hustle out of class to get to their part-time jobs, the same jobs they have now in high school. They’ll learn life skills like how to please the boss, be on time, and get along with co-workers whom they don’t like. The kids up the road will only go into a workplace if it’s the one their parents own. They’ll deal with college as more of a social opportunity and annoyance than an education. They’ll step into jobs, careers really, but they won’t have the drive that will have developed in the farm kids who actually worked hard but were never actually certain that they would get there.
I don’t know with whom I have an issue to take up. It’s hard to blame the McMansion kids because they don’t set the conditions, not at first anyway. They’re a product of their environment, and they’re what they have been taught and raised to be. One of the very few times my brother, a staunch Republican, has ever agreed with me was when I said, “I don’t want to hear parents complain that ‘kids are different these days.’ Kids are what we have allowed them to become. They are born no different than we were, but they’re raised much differently than we were.” Should I take issue with the parents who spend too much coddling time instead of quality time? On Friday night they leave a handful of $20’s on the kitchen table with a note that says “See you Monday,” then after work they head for the shore house or Atlantic City condo while the kids are home with the house to themselves all weekend. The parents are the ones who give the teenagers the new Lexus for Christmas their senior year and send them to the Caribbean after graduation, ruining a lifetime of expectation and entitlement.
Or maybe my issue is with myself. Have you ever seen those awful Lexus commercials at Christmas? The ones where a bright-faced girl of about 18 or 19 finds a new luxury car with a giant red bow in the driveway? Those commercials greatly annoy me. This video kind of mocks those commercials.