It was fitting that we finished reading the last two chapters of Roald Dahl's, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory just in time for summer recess. What a wonderfully written story to show children the repugnance of being spoiled rotten. My boys absolutely hate it when we call them Veruca Salt should they start with one of their "I want it NOW" or "Gimme a drink," or "Why can't I have that toy...it's SO not fair" tantrums.
In these times of abundance and instant gratification, I think it should be a prerequisite that parents read the book to their children much like they would Cat In The Hat or Goodnight Moon. I realize the book is much longer - it took us a couple of weeks to finish with one chapter a night but the impact was phenomenal. Children are always more interested in what happens to other children and moms are always interested in chocolate.
But it goes back to the simple truth that the parents are responsible for spoiling a child. No matter how much the grandparents may dote on a child, what counts is that mom and dad have laid a solid foundation of knowing the difference between right and wrong.
Just yesterday, my mother confronted a four-year-old who was notorious for being rude. The sad thing is, he doesn't even know that it's a bad thing. He's not being taught to ask if he can borrow something before he grabs it and he's certainly not being taught to return it when he's done. I've seen him destroy another boy's car while his grandmother ineffectively told him to stop. And when he throws a tantrum because it's time to return something, what does she do? She asks the owner if her grandson can keep the toy because he's so distraught with parting with it.
Are you kidding me? We're not the Salvation Army here, lady. Go buy your own friggin' toy.
Inevitably, that's what happens to a kid whose parents haven't got the sense to teach him manners - he gets alienated. I don't let my boys interact with him, much less play with him when he's around either. I even go as far as packing up our toys and guarding them in front of me when he's in the park.
And about my mother's confrontation with him...she told him he couldn't have the items he was grabbing from her. He actually reprimanded her and told her she had to share.
Her response was, "Share? Sharing is I let you have something and you give me something in return - you NEVER bring anything so, don't talk to me about sharing!"
As he ran back crying to his grandmother, I pictured my mother in Willy Wonka's top hat and cane, commanding the squirrels to throw this kid down a garbage chute.