Friday, January 21, 2005

The Dumping Grounds

Back when I was growing up, I remember very cleary the day that I was riding in the car with my mother, going to the store or coming back from my grandparents house, or some such thing. It was memorable because I got to ride in the front seat, and my sisters were in back. These were the days when the typical family had only one car, and wives/moms were expected to stay at home with the kids, while the husband/father took the car to work. Whenever the kids got to be in the car, it was usually a family affair, and the parents would be in front, and me and my cootie sisters were in the back. But on this day, for whatever reason, Mom was driving, Dad wasn't with us, and I was in the front seat.

At some point during this ride, I rolled down the window and casually tossed out some sort of litter. I don't remember if it was something small or something large, but it didn't matter. All of a sudden, my mother stops the car, and in a moment I won't likely ever forget, ripped me a new one about the sins of littering. With the car stopped in the middle of the street, and traffic trying to get by, she made me get out and pick up whatever it was. My sisters, after the initial shock had worn off, took great glee in the fact that my butt had been royally chewed! That's all it ever took. Never again, in the next 4 decades, have I ever tossed litter out of a car window.

I bring this up now, because of a disturbing trend I've seen over the past couple of years. And it happened again this afternoon. A carload of kids (apparently from a multi-car family!) was stopped at the light across the intersection from me. Someone in the back seat rolled down their window, and tossed out a full bag of empty McDonald's remnants. Didn't even bother looking around to see if someone was watching, in case it was something they shouldn't be doing. Then someone from the front seat hands him another one to toss! The light turns green, and I don't even move. They pass by me, without the slightest hint that they might have done something remotely wrong!

Now I'm generally the first one in line to defend the maturity of teenagers today. I've seen plenty of them getting the short end of the stick, just because of their age. But at what point did the youth of today figure out that it's OK to just dump out their garbage in the middle of the street?? Between my mother, and that hokey public service announcement of the Indian chief crying over the smog, litter and pollution, the thought of littering hasn't crossed my mind since that fateful day so, so many years ago. Have we raised a full generation or two of parents who don't teach their kids anymore? I can't imagine a parent of my age allowing their children (or grandchildren) to do such a thing!

God bless my mother for teaching me things at a young age. This is just one of the many things she did well for me in my life. She still made a mistake by not forcing me to take piano lessons, but that's a subject for a future discussion...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Have we raised a full generation or two of parents who don't teach their kids anymore?"

My experience is that it is a rare thing to find a family where the parents 'teach' their children anything. They (stereotypically) expect the public school systems to raise their children, then get their panties in a knot and blame the schools when something negative happens.

i actually have a diary entry from second or third grade about picking up litter in the playground! LOL. and i've never fathomed how people sleep at night after ditching their cigarette butt (or ashtray) out the window---especially in the southwest where wildfires are prevelant.

and yes, i'm reading random posts--i enjoy your writing style.