Seen and Heard

I’ve talked about this before, using a different phrase, but after working in retail for some time now, I can’t help bringing it up again.

“Children are meant to be seen, not heard.”

The sentence ignites a great amount of irritation in me. I won’t repeat myself because I went into plenty of detail about why the similar phrase, don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, is outdated and makes no sense. But this one feels even more so.

Although it’s short, after the time I’ve already spent working in retail, if there is any age group that should be seen instead of heard, it is adults!

The majority of the customers are pleasant and most transactions go normally with zero trouble. Of the problematic customers I have had, however, I’ve never had one who was a child. Neither have my co-workers. When my co-workers talk about the trouble they have with customers, they are referring to adults.

That’s not to say the children are always angelic. Of course, I hear children cry and occasionally throw temper tantrums. Or they touch things and don’t put them back correctly. I won’t deny that behavior is annoying.

But it pales in comparison to the adult who yells at me because I can’t do their return due to lack of any proof of their purchase (receipt, phone number, and/or sale tags). It’s nothing compared to the adults who frequently come to the register at closing time with a large amount of items for purchase, layaway, or both. It’s not children who leave the aisles a mess, with clothes and trash strewn across the floor (our toy aisle is very rarely messy!).

The worst thing a child has done to me directly at my register? Chatter. Yes, the “worst” experience I’ve ever had with a child at my counter is them sparking up a conversation with me. How dare they speak to me, an adult, when they haven’t been addressed?! Actually, I’m glad they do. They’re quite cheerful and tend to be the bright spot of a long shift.

In fact, the only times so far I’ve heard children continously cry are when they are tired or otherwise uncomfortable, and they’re usually small children (under three years old). I remember one particular small girl who was wailing so loudly, she could be heard throughout the store the entire time she and her family were there. My curiosity got the better of me and when they came to my register, I somewhat jokingly asked if the little one was having a bad day. Her mother flat out said she was tired and needed a nap. Is it the child’s fault she’s not being permitted to sleep? Who isn’t cranky when they’re being kept awake?

Now, I do not at all think children should be treated like adults, and in general, adults are more mature than children. I do believe that. But this concept that a child shouldn’t be allowed to speak solely because they are a child isn’t one I’ve seen to have much merit to it.

If this also refers to interrupting adults when talking, again, that should apply to everybody. Interrupting someone is rude, regardless of your age. I don’t want to be interrupted by a 30-year-old any more than I want to be interrupted by a 3-year-old.

Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mothet was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!

Millennials: The Only Entitled Generation?

I came across a rather interesting article yesterday.

Supposedly, 40% of my generation doesn’t eat cereal because it’s inconvenient. At least, 40% of the millennials they surveyed because I’m positive no survey has ever gotten the opinion of absolutely every person in their targeted group. I certainly wasn’t asked any questions about my breakfast choices and the reasons for them.

What’s more surprising is it seems something as simple as not wanting a certain food for breakfast is further my generation is lazy, spoiled, entitled, selfish, and can’t do anything for themselves. Except for those who are Republicans, of course, because they believe in work. Aside from them, my generation is worthless. I’ve yet to make friends with anyone my age who cares about politics and identifies with any party, and I certainly don’t consider myself any of the parties that exist because I despise politics as well, but okay. I’ll run with it.

Ignoring 40% is less than 50, which would mean 60%, the majority, of the millennials they surveyed do eat cereal, though I suppose acknowledging that would make it harder to insult them, I’m interested in what politics have to do with breakfast and why, supposedly, my generation is the only “bad” one.

There is no one in personal life of any age who considers themselves to be part of any political party. They might discuss if it comes up on the news, but that’s it. Out of my friends online, I think only one has any interest in politics, though I’d have to ask to be certain. I know the others don’t. My own reason for disliking politics is I’ve learned it’s a subject that can never end kindly. I know there people are of my generation and older who care about politics, but at the moment, I’ve yet to become acquainted with any of them.

As for breakfast, I eat cereal, but I also eat other foods. There are a lot of breakfast foods out there. Pancakes and French toast are my favorites. Sometimes, I don’t eat breakfast because I’m not hungry or I don’t want to eat yet. I’m positive my brain is responsible for my hunger levels and occasionally missing appetite, not the year I was born.

On the bright side, there were several people in those comments who also thought calling a generation entitled for their breakfast choices, of all things, was ridiculous. Still, the whole article only leads me to this question: Why does it seem my generation is considered not only the most terrible, but the only generation with spoiled people? If anyone wants to meet people of older generations with bad values, I can introduce them to the racist family members I keep my partner from. Better yet, they can meet my grandfather, who believes the only races in existence are Caucasian-Americans and African-Americans, and every other race is “foreign” or “immigrant”, even if those people of other races were born in the US.

I’ve read every generation treats the generation younger than them like this. That’s really not comforting. All that tells me is too many people despise another group of people for their age, something they have zero control over. No matter how unhappy I may be with some ways the world is changing, I don’t ever want to reach the point of hating anyone because they’re younger than me. I will hate someone for treating me or others badly, but not for the smaller amount of years they’ve been on this planet than me. I consider this world to be a very dark one anyway, so I consider them lucky they haven’t spent much time on it yet.

No, I don’t believe my generation is flawless. Enduring over a decade of school bullying shoots that idea down. I know how terrible some of my generation is. However, if it’s true this will be said about every generation, what’s the point in the stereotypes? More so, how are menial things like breakfast choices any indication of if someone’s lazy or not? I know the article said those 40% don’t eat cereal because of inconvenience, but what exactly is the inconvenience? Are they in a rush? I don’t eat when I’m in a rush either. Are they trying to save time? When I was in school, I occasionally skipped lunch to start on my homework to avoid having to do all of it at home.

It’s only cereal. It’s really not a big deal. Most of them aren’t very healthy anyway. That said, if anyone takes away my Honey Nut Cheerios, I’ll bite their hand off.

Never Good Enough

It’s funny how no matter how much goodness there is in the world, it still pales in comparison to the opposite, whether on a massive scale or a much smaller, more personal one.

I don’t consider myself a horrible person. I’ve never broken the law. I’ve willingly helped people and enjoyed doing so. I’ve helped out at community events, helped clean up a beach, volunteered my time at a food bank, and looked after others’ children. I’m kind to and have helped my best friend and my boyfriend. I’ve stayed up all night multiple times to be there for someone I cared about dealing with a rough night, online and offline. I don’t have any bigotries.

I don’t sound like an awful person and I would hope I’m not. Yet I deal with feelings of worthlessness all the time for one reason and one reason only: I’ve never had a job.

That fact alone makes me feel like I am little more than a plague on society who’d have been better off not existing. I don’t think about it when I’m around others, but when I’m alone, the thought often creeps in and I question if any of the above really matters. I fear losing the positive relationships I have due to losing the respect of those of I care about for being jobless. I question why, if I could make the action to end things painless, I choose to remain alive. I question why I can’t do this one thing it seems everyone has done multiple times by my age, no matter how hard I try. I question if I’m really worth anything, and if what I listed above are merely distractions or ways to make up for my lack of being a contributing member to society.

I’ve lost the ability to see myself in any position different from the one I’m in. This is the only way I can picture myself when I’m 30, 40, 50 years old, assuming I live that long. A small part of me doesn’t want to see any more future birthdays, not even 2017’s. I fear reaching yet another age.

Then, there’s a part of me that feels very selfish. I visited my best friend this past Friday and she briefly vented to me about her job. She has had her job for a full year, but she abhors it and wants a different one. Shortly after, she showed me the new phone she’d gotten. While I still felt sympathy for her troubles at work, a part of me still felt envious solely because she has a job. One she hates and could never live off of, but a job nonetheless. Of course, I kept my feelings to myself and didn’t tell her, but the truth is would it not leave her jobless instead of me, I’d switch places with her immediately if it were possible.

I don’t believe I will ever fit in as a functioning societal member and it’s not a thought that makes me happy. I want to work and I want to be a contributor, but so far, my efforts have resulted in nothing more than rejection and more questions of my own worth. Yes, I’m aware many people experience joblessness, but I believe most of those people had already worked a minimum of two jobs by my age whereas my work experience is absolutely blank.

I hate I have this feeling. I hate the feeling of everything I do meaning nothing because it doesn’t compare to me working and paying for myself to the extent a job would allow me to. I hate this feeling overshadows everything. I know a job is nowhere near fun and I’d likely feel the same as my best friend if I did find a job. I know the difference between imagined expectations and reality, as it’s led to changes in what were my long-term goals. In spite of that, my self-worth is still in question due to my lack of any employment within my lifetime. I feel I could save someone from certain death, and still see myself as having contributed nothing to society when I later returned home.

I remember being a child and believing adults had everything figured out. After all, that’s why adults were in charge of children instead of the other way around. At least, that’s essentially what I was told. I’ve already been looked down on for my age multiple times and I know I will always be sneered at for it by people older than me, no matter what age I’m at. I’ve seen adults whose maturity was outmatched by children look down their noses at me for being younger than them. Age means a lot beyond the laws in society. I’ve not yet found the age where I’m an adult who has everything figured out like the adults I met as a child did. Supposedly, that age does not exist, but I wonder if it really does and I’m one of those people who hasn’t caught up to it yet. I really don’t know what adulthood is supposed to be, but I know I’m doing every ounce of it wrongly.

Handwriting: Outdated Now?

When I was attending my second high school, one of the rules was handwritten homework isn’t allowed. Anyone who turned in handwritten work failed the assignment, regardless of if they would’ve passed otherwise. I always thought that was a strange rule, especially since we did most of the classwork with paper and pencil until the school gave students iPads during my second year.

I asked this in a Facebook group of mine and got this question in response: “Would you turn in handwritten work at a job?” My answer to that question was unless I was told otherwise, I would give handwritten work.

Apparently, that’s not a good idea. Handwritten work is seen as unprofessional (despite that writing takes more work than typing…), so it isn’t acceptable in jobs. That leads me to this question: why was handwriting ever taught to children in the first place?

Yes, that’s a serious question. If school is supposed to prepare children to hold jobs as adults, why was handwriting taught when I was growing up? My elementary school years were a decade ago, so not that long. Shouldn’t I have never been taught how to write in the first place if it’s unacceptable? And why is it still being taught today? I once read an article about how many recent high school graduates have poor reading and writing skills. I don’t know about the reading, but if handwriting is no longer acceptable, it makes why they’d have poor writing skills. They don’t need them.

I have to admit it’s something that makes me sad and little less optimistic about the future. In another decade, maybe less, handwriting will be an obsolete skill, if it isn’t already. That means there will someday be a whole generation that has never learned how to write or has never heard of handwriting. I understand why if it’s a needless skill, but I can’t say it doesn’t make me question my own early education years. Since I don’t plan to have kids, this isn’t I need to be concerned about. It’s merely me trying to adjust the world becoming more and more digitized. I was prepared for typing to be alongside handwriting, not its replacement.

I can’t find it right now, but I remember seeing a political (?) cartoon where two kids were in class and had books. One kid turned to his friend and asked what it was and how to turn it on. I initially rolled my eyes and scoffed at it, but maybe the artist of that cartoon isn’t so far off the mark. Sure, books are typed instead of handwritten, but I can see a kid looking at handwriting, perhaps finding a picture of it on the internet, and asking how they type it instead of how they write it.

Handwriting becoming obsolete also makes me understand giving very small children tablets. I always found that weird because tablets, even ones specifically designed for children, are expensive and small kids are gluttons are clumsiness and accidents. But if they’re going to type their work, whether it’s on an iPad or a computer, instead of writing on paper, little kids do need tablets. At the very least, they have to learn how to type somehow and somewhere.

Personally, I can’t imagine not knowing how to write and despite it becoming an unneeded skill, it’s one I don’t want to lose. At the same time, I suppose it doesn’t matter. If it’s not needed now, it certainly won’t be needed when I’m 30, 40, 55, and so on, assuming I live to those ages. I probably wouldn’t realize I’d lost the ability to write if I ever did, so maybe it’s something I shouldn’t be thinking about at all.

Technology marches on.