Please, come and take a journey with me.
Imagine you have been invited to a party. By the time this party occurs you have been anxiously looking forward to it for months. Why are you looking forward to it? Because of the party favors. Seriously, this thing is going to be intense. What would be your dream party favor? For me, it would be... a free piano? That sounds great. Or, if you have a hard time thinking of this, imagine that you have been invited to attend Oprah's Favorite Things show. (Yeah, I know it doesn't exist anymore.) Now, you come to this party/show with a bunch of other adults knowing that there is enough for everyone. It isn't some Black Friday sale, this is for everyone who was invited. The moment arrives, the party favors are laid out/the magic door opens showing you what you have been waiting for. All you have to do is go and get it. Exciting, eh?
Now, as the door opens, there are about 3 out of the 50 people attending that run frantically and take as much as they can for themselves. They get as much as they can, put it in their car, and then frantically run for more. They push others to the side and are only thinking of themselves and how great it is going to be. What will they do with all of the extras? You don't know. All you know is they are taking from everyone else there because they are selfish. Are you angry? Are you disappointed? Are you sad? Do you get in and fight at their level, or do you stay with you friend with the broken leg who can't get in there as fast as everyone else?
It sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn't it. What adults would actually act that way? I mean, I'm sure there are some. Would you clap for them? Would you be disgusted and complain? What do you do in this kind of situation?
Even though that story seems a bit ludicrous, let's change the setting a little bit.
Maybe you are at a 4th of July parade. And it's not you that is excited, it is your son or daughter. You have worked very hard to teach them manners. When the candy starts flying, they look to you for reassurance. You tell them, that yes, that piece of candy 18 inches away from them is theirs for the taking. As a wide smile spreads across their face, and they move to reach for the candy, they are pushed out of the way by other kids. This exciting time becomes a sad day. They wanted some candy too. (And let's be honest, to the average 4 year old candy is as big of a deal as a piano would be to me.) Instead of being a happy, joyous day, they leave feeling sad, dejected, and possibly physically hurt. (Some of those kids push hard!) As a parent (or aunt, or good friend) how do you feel? What do you want to do about it?
This may seem pretty random, seeing as it is October. However, Saturday my Ward had a Trunk-or-Treat. We attended. I didn't plan on getting much for #1, she's too young for that. But it was fun to go and watch all of the kids. Some of those little 4 year old kids were so cute! There were probably about 40 kids, and about 15 cars. Totally enough for everyone. But there ended up not really being enough. As the kids started going for candy, the older kids ran from car to car. Their greedy hands excitedly took handfuls out of the offered bowls. If you were lucky enough to catch one, you could make them put some back, but it was obvious that many of these kids had this down to a science. Then they made the rounds again. And again. While trying to take care of #1, I was not as able to police my bowl of candy as I hoped. Soon, I realized that most of my candy was gone, and all I had left was a meager offer. When this happened all of the cute small kids were just making it around for the first time. I happened to have the right kind of candy for some, but not for others. How sad I was that I couldn't make all of the kids happy. Something that bothered me the most was this conversation I heard between a mother and daughter:
Mom: Darling, how many times have you made it around this circle?
Daughter: (While holding a bulging bag of candy) Oh, this is my 3rd or 4th.
Mom: (Laughing now) Wow, you are sure busy. How fun.
WHAT? Are you encouraging your kid to act this way?
As a Mom, this really troubles me. What am I supposed to teach my kids? I know that I should teach them to share, to not be selfish, to make sure you care about others. But, if Saturday night is the norm, then it taught me that by having well behaved children they will be stuck with a plastic pumpkin full of Smarties. Not that Smarties are bad, but seriously, a little variety is nice. I realize that my kids don't need a ton of candy, but the event is half of the fun.
I won't teach my kids to be selfish. I will stop the bad behavior that I see. But I am seriously saddened by what I have witnessed.
Shouldn't we all teach our kids to be kind and to share?