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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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O.K. Corral

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Originally published April 4, 2008

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay.

Four pairs of eyes were fixed on mine, like I was staring down a group of old west gunslingers.  Someone would have to make the first move.

I figured one of them would move first.  They were four middle school girls refusing the food I was offering. At any moment, I was sure one of them would reach down and draw – possibly a cell phone or a tube of lip gloss.

At a gathering of kids at my house recently, I couldn’t seem to serve any food that everyone would eat.  Some kids didn’t like salad.  Others didn’t eat strawberries.  One didn’t want pizza.  A couple of kids even said they didn’t eat cake, when I offered it later in the evening. No one behaved badly – they were just letting me know.

It’s an example of how kids are different today.  When I was growing up, my friends and I would accept whatever food was being served.  That’s not to say everyone liked or ate everything, but as kids, we took what was given.  We didn’t think we had any choice.

Today, kids seem to have nothing but choice, not only in what they eat, but in lots of things.  They choose all their own clothes and accessories such as shoes, backpacks, and cell phones. For entertainment, they make choices about movies, computer games, and music downloads. They participate in family decisions about summer camps, vacations, and restaurants for dining-out.  Not just middle school kids are making these choices, but younger children in elementary school are doing it also.

I like to think there are positive consequences to having so much choice when you’re young.  In many ways, life is all about the choices you make.  By making many choices now, perhaps kids are learning important skills that will help them throughout their lives.

But, I can’t help thinking kids today are given too many choices.  Maybe they’re even spoiled – an old-fashioned word for describing kids who have too much.  As parents, perhaps we’re teaching our kids to always expect things to go their way, by allowing them to make so many choices.

Somehow, kids also need to learn that things are not always of their choosing, and sometimes, there’s no choice at all.  On occasion, you just have to take what you’re given and make the best of it.  If kids don’t learn this lesson, they’ll never be able to make a move – life could be one big draw at the O.K. Corral.

Often, I see myself as the old woman who says, “When I was a kid, I walked 10 miles to school every day in the snow without any shoes.” In this case, I would say, “When I was a kid, I didn’t always get to choose what shoes to buy, and I ate whatever was being served.”

Maybe only good things will come from having so many choices.  It could be that kids today will get to have their cake and eat it too.  Even if they don’t eat cake.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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