Maybe it's just me, but parental guidance isn't what it used to be. Kids roam the streets unsupervised at all hours of the day. Skateboarders roll into traffic, sometimes toward traffic, laughing all the way. Granted, as an only child, I probably had more restrictions than most children. Occasionally I forget I'm an adult and still ask my parents if I can do things. “You don't have to ask; just tell us where you’re going.” they’ll say, shaking their heads. I think good parenting results in hearing our parents’ voices even when they're not around. It keeps us out of trouble.

I go to lunch and I see kids ransacking delis, making fun of the guys behind the counter. I see skateboarders leap into parking lots before looking. I overhear conversations about what teenagers were doing when their parents thought they were somewhere else. Granted, there are plenty of things my parents didn't find out until years later, and one or two they should never find out. Maybe it's just the volume of unsupervised youngsters I witness on a regular basis that overwhelms. I hear words that the teenage MCF never would have understood; we didn't have Urban Dictionary back then.

I navigated a treacherous line on Thursday and made my way to a table to enjoy a delicious sandwich of roast beef, bacon, and American cheese on a roll of garlic bread. You better believe this porker tried to counter that with an hour of cardio later on with two separate machines. There would have been a third machine in the mix but the stair machine proved impossible to climb and I fell before I even reached the controls. But I digress, as per usual.

As I enjoyed my lunch, the line in the popular establishment remained as long as ever. One group of kids came in, saw the line, and proceeded to cut through the dining area to bring their chips and sodas directly to the counter without waiting. “Short cut!” guffawed one lummox, bumping every table along the way. The funny thing is, as wild as kids seem without their parents, I was about to witness what happened when a parent was present.

A woman walked in with two little boys, let's say 8 and 10 for the sake of estimate. As she walked over to a cash machine, one of her loyal offspring followed close at her heels. “ROBBIE!” she snapped, whirling around and letting a burned down cigarette butt drop from her lips. “Get. On. LINE! I don't have all day to be in here!!” The little boy hung his head in shame, and toddled back over to his younger brother.

She shook her head and sighed in disgust, turning back to the machine and turning her back on her children in the process. Some more teenagers came in, looked at the little kids standing along the counter, and just walked around them. “Mommy?” asked the younger boy. “Shh!” She snapped. “What did I tell you? Stay on line! And start thinking about what you want to eat!” She turned her back again to unravel the riddle of the machine before her.

I guess I shouldn't judge too harshly. After all, here was a parent actually spending time with her children. And it was a mutually beneficial relationship, as they served as placeholders while she took out some money to feed them. I wonder if she made use of them in the parking lot too, maybe sending one running out to lie down in an empty spot until she could whip her SUV around. No, what I witnessed was heartwarming. I wish I could paint like Rockwell so that I might capture the scene perfectly. Instead, I just finished my sandwich and headed out, catching the door before some teenagers running out ahead of me let it slam in my face.

It's a mystery why kids are the way they are these days, is it not?


Blogger Ali said...

Mystery you say? Man! I'm starting to sound like my parents "Back in the old days.."

Actually I agree with you. Seems like kids are crazier then before. No manners, no respect and definitely some with no morals.

I was shocked one day in a store when a young girl who was in her own little world cut me off in a store, as I was browsing for a long time at a shirt. She had bumped into me. What shocked me was that she actually stopped and turned around and heartfully apologized. I readjusted my dirty look to a look of shock. I was definitely stunned by that kind gesture.

6/27/2008 1:55 PM  

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