Are we raising a generation of slobs? I’m asking this question after I had a somewhat depressing discussion with my teenage daughter. Her high school had to suspend “North Time” which is an hour in their daily class schedule where students can eat lunch, get help with school work, and have club meetings.
The reason the beloved North Time was suspended is because some of the kids were being gross. Apparently, trash was being haphazardly strewn throughout the school. You know it’s bad when the principal has to send an email to all the parents informing them that a part of their child’s school schedule is being adjusted because there’s an outbreak of lazy with side of disgusting.
I was so repulsed by the thought of almost adults being such slackers that they couldn’t even throw away their lunch trash that I called the principal. He made me feel better and then worse by informing me that this rampage of slobdom is not confined to just my child’s school. It’s happening everywhere.
Selfishly, I was glad that my daughter’s school wasn’t ground zero for the epidemic and that the principal was mounting a defense, but that moment of relief was replaced by a surge of mom anger that our kids are acting like feral hogs wallowing in their own filth.
The more I thought about it the more I became uncomfortable because I began pondering the very real possibility that I’ve failed my children. This hit me when I asked my daughter if she was picking up trash around the school. (I’m assuming she is throwing away her own lunch trash because quite frankly I can’t function in a world where my 17-year-old is that big of an idiot.) She responded by wrinkling up her nose, shuddering and then saying, “Eww no.”
“What do you mean eww no? Why wouldn’t you pitch in?”
“Duh, because it’s disgusting and it’s not my trash.”
I totally went off and began listing all the things I pick up, clean off, launder, wipe down, put away, scrub, and mop that aren’t “mine.”
She was unimpressed and although she was smart enough not to say it I knew she was thinking, “Well, you’re a mom and that’s what moms do.”
And she’s, of course, right, and here is where I’ve failed because at some point I should have handed off more of these responsibilities that my children apparently feel are “mom tasks.”
To compound the problem, I’ve also fallen into what I call the “busy child trap”. This is where you tell yourself that your kid with a heavy academic load and a demanding extracurricular activity is too busy to even clean their own room. Yep, not always, but more times than I care to fess up to I’ve cleaned my daughter’s room.
I’m outing myself and welcome the public shaming. I deserve it. It’s probably a good thing that my mother (the Goddess of Clean, who taught me to polish silver at age five and at age eight the joys of ironing pillowcases while watching the soap Another World with the esteemed Susan Sullivan as the lovely and complex Lenore Curtin.) isn’t around to witness my failure in passing the chore baton onto my children.
Because you see the issue is greater than raising kids that don’t help around the house. We’re creating soon to be adults who don’t value cleanliness and that’s a bigger problem.
Cleanliness is a sign of order, discipline and respect. Three things you need to be a success in life and three things that must be taught at home. If our kids are slobs we can’t blame the schools instead we need to look in a mirror.