The Kids Are All Right


The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
(The crossing of their legs really gets to me. You know?) Does this statement sound about right about Kids These Days? Many of us would agree with the sentiments expressed therein.
But there’s a rub.
These words were written by Plato in the fifth century B.C. or found in an Egyptian tomb from the Second Dynasty or engraved on a potshard from the T’ang Dynasty in China. They’re not about today’s kids: they’re about yesterday’s youth. And they’re about as old school as they come. That’s an idea that should bring people up short.
It does, but it doesn’t bring them up short for long, because the older folk love to complain about the youngsters. They dress funny. They eat strange food. They wear their hair in bizarre ways. And their music… It’s so odd and so strange. You call that music? Not me—why back in my day music sounded like music, not like noise…
And they complain about the young folks’ work habits. They don’t work hard enough. They’re unreliable. They don’t know what they’re doing. You know the list.
My observation is that we have slackers in every generation (in my father’s time they were called “goldbricks.”) I taught with a fellow whose big accomplishment was getting to school at all. And it was said he did nothing at all when he got there.

And, to be sure, there are young people who don’t do squat. I once had a student whose avowed purpose in life was to “slack.’ And slack he did.  He worked after school in a bakery, a job that takes a concerted effort to slack off.. Some of my other students worked with him and said, yes, he was slacker and created work for everyone else with his dedication to slacking.
Which reminds me of The Three Rules of Work posited by the father of one my daughters’ friends. These are simple and would make a difference if we all went by them at work. They are:
1. Come to work.
2. Do work.
3. Don’t create work for others.
Now, it is my belief that the young people in our midst work hard and follow the Three Rules of Work. Most people I know, in fact, work far harder than they need to, often at a resultant cost.
Among the young, since the best “potism” is nepotism, I think of our two daughters as hard and exceptionally competent workers. Amy is a fourth grade school teacher who impresses me with her dedication, skill, knowledge and compassion. She is after thirteen years in the classroom head and shoulders as a teacher above what I was after 32 years. Alyssa is funny, smart, empathic and knowledgeable in her job as a H.R. specialist for a hugmongous corporation. If you want to know from H.R., check with Alyssa. And if you need an advocate, you want her on your side whether you have been abused by a indifferent faceless business or had a flight cancelled, you want her to step up and get these folks to do the right thing.
Then there are our nephews, Jonathan and Joshua. Jonathan is the hardest working fellow I know with an incredible sense of humor, and a kindness not often seen in young men. Josh for some time now had been the coolest person I know and has been all over his job since day one. They all make me so proud of them.
I asked Amy and Alyssa’s friends on Facebook to send me their occupations. Such a list indicates the sharpness of these young people and how hard they have to work: HRIS analyst,
quality assurance coordinator and trainer, realtor, financial representative, sales manager, associate pastor,  military social worker, accountant, career counselor, transportation research scientist, administrator, assistant director of music ministries, vice president of a company, neighborhood HR lady, teacher, veterinarian, lawyer, college professor, singer/cantor, cashier, executive assistant, kindergarten teacher’s assistant, pediatric nurse, pediatric pharmacist, mother, single parent, soldier, Marine, and fire fighter.
 Keep it up, guys! You kids are all right!

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