Ron Hart: Grumpy Old Man Graduation Speech, High School Edition

Columnist Ron Hart was asked to give a high school commencement speech. Here's part of what he wrote:

Students are victims of a giant fraud: the government-run education system that has molded them for 12 gullible years. Public schools are government-run; teachers are government-hired; and government determines standards, pay, curricula and graduation requirements. Government seeks to produce compliant citizens it can someday rule without much pushback. Smart, independent thinkers are not wanted....

The result is kids who are not prepared for life or for the workforce; 22.6 million young "adults" between the ages of 18 and 34 still live with their parents. Twenty-six percent of parents have taken on debt to support their adult offspring.

These kids drive right by "Help Wanted" signs at Starbucks and play video games all day. They have been conditioned to believe that hard work is for chumps. "Why work? The government or my parents will take care of me." Kids watch reality TV shows like "The Deadliest Catch" and marvel at men who work hard each day at their job, catching fish.

Whole thing here.

I'm not as down on the younger generation, who seem to be doing pretty well for themselves (at least compared to my cohort, which graduated from high school in 1981). As even Hart acknowledges, "suicide rates are up among middle-age Americans," and that's got nothing to do with kids these days. Labor-force participation is down among all groups under the age of 50. I don't blame kids under the age of 25 for slacking - it's mostly their parents who are pushing them to do all sorts of non-employment activities, especially spending more time getting all sorts of edumication, year-round sports, and the like. There but for the luck of birth went me!

But for the folks between 25 and 50: What the hell is wrong with you compared to folks in 1990?

As long as it's graduation season, we might as well listen to Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann's epic "Everyone's free to wear sunscreen" (1999), which seems like it comes not just from a different time but a different planet:

 

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  • WTF||

    Shorter Ron Hart: "Get offa my lawn!!"

  • UnCivilServant||

    I wish I had a lawn so I could tell people to get off of it. Grass won't grow on my patch of dirt.

  • WTF||

    I have a lawn, but have never told anyone to get off of it. maybe I'm just not old enough yet.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Then there's me: "HEY YOU! KID! COME HERE AND TRAMPLE MY LAWN! Damn thing grows too much."

  • Ted S.||

    I've got a thousand-foot driveway and live on top of a hill at the end of a dead-end road. I only get deer and turkeys in my front yard.

    Well, I did have bears on a coupl eof occasions.

  • entropy||

    HEY YOU KIDS GET OFF MY DIRT PATCH!

  • UnCivilServant||

    It just isn't as catchy.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    GET OFF'N MY SOIL?

  • Agammamon||

    Get off'n my land!

  • hotsy totsy||

    Get off a my cloud!

  • RightNut||

  • $park¥||

    The result is kids who are not prepared for life or for the workforce; 22.6 million young "adults" between the ages of 18 and 34 still live with their parents. Twenty-six percent of parents have taken on debt to support their adult offspring.

    I had a 'talk' with my son last night in which I 'explained' that this will not be an option for him. Our 'discussion' started when I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up and he said "play video games."

  • creech||

    Undoubtedly he heard that one could make $734.56 per day on the internet.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Get him into programming.

  • $park¥||

    It's funny, that was one of the things I brought up. He's 12, I told him if he gets started now he might be able to make it when he gets out of school. He wasn't interested.

  • ||

    Get 'im started on programming and coding, and he can play and build video games to his heart's content (and make money at it)!

  • RightNut||

    When do I get paid again?

  • Hyperion||

    I started coding on my Commodore 64, in old line basic and assembler code, self taught. Geez, I am an old geezer.

    But after that, I did go get a compsci degree.

    Like everything else, writing code gets old after a couple of decades doing it every day, but it still pays well.

  • ||

    I programmed our Commodore to play "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" in Basic. I copied it from the book, so I didn't really understand what I was doing, but I think it helped me understand the structure & sytax of web coding when I got into this profession.

  • $park¥||

    so I didn't really understand what I was doing, but I think it helped me understand the structure & sytax

    I think I got the same thing when I coded the stupid balloon pop game that was in the manual.

  • Hyperion||

    For some reason, I caught onto it really quick, and haven't really stopped coding since. That line basic language was horrible, though. Thank the invisible sky gods for .NET.

  • Ted S.||

    I programmed my TI-99/4A to flip ten virtual coins at once. This was before I knew of the concept of pseudorandomness.

  • Broseph of Invention||

    High school students should be able to take a programming language instead of a foreign language.

  • Ruckus||

    That's a pretty good idea. I never had any expose to programming, in academics, in HS. I was in a vocational org. (TSA) and entered a web building competition. That was the first time I was exposed to a programming language at all, self teaching myself JS and PHP.

  • Rasilio||

    Lol I just offered to loan my kids out to our neighbor/landlord should he ever need any help with manual labor (we live in a rural area on multiple acres with some livestock on the premises) just so my kids can learn that doing a load of dishes is not "hard work".

    I was planning on sending them up to work on a Dairy farm in the Adirondacks that some relatives owned but I just found out that my cousins also were opposed to hard work so when their parents got too old they just shut down the farm and moved to the city.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    I was planning on sending them up to work on a Dairy farm in the Adirondacks that some relatives owned

    I plan on doing this with my (hypothetical) children and my parents' farm.

    Plus I get a summer without parental responsibilities!

  • JW||

    I was planning on sending them up to work on a Dairy farm in the Adirondacks

    I've had the same idea for years. Send the kids to a working farm for the summer. See you in 12 weeks!

    Let's see how much they whine about "chores" after that.

  • Tybus||

    Well..after 18 years of independent living, I too will be moving back home with my family to boot. Sold a house and bought a house that fell through.Serenity now.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Similar age, and I'm probably making 35%-40% less than I was making 5 years ago. And it took a year of begging to get the job. Only a temporary pay reduction I hope, but I can imagine a lot of forty-somethings having trouble adjusting to what might be the new normal.

  • Rasilio||

    I don't know, I'm 43 and I've more than tripled my salary in the last 10 years and as of right now have little doubt that if anything happened to my job I would be back to work in less than 30 days making at least 80% of what I make right now.

    I guess it just depends on what field you have been working in.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I know, I only have anecdotal evidence. I'm sure it's all very much location and field based.

  • Hyperion||

    Yep. I don't have much doubt at all, that if I lost my job, I'd have multiple offers within 2-3 weeks. And I'm over 50. But even at that age, an experienced IT worker in a good job area, won't be out of work for long.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    I make 1/2 of what I did 4 years ago. I decided that extra money just wasn't getting me where I wanted to be. I work about three days a week, play with my little farm, play with my hobbies, spend a lot of time with my family, and generally have a good time.

    I used to do at least three kinds of taxes each month, plus federal and state income taxes quarterly and annually, all just for my business. Now I do the same personal income taxes everyone else does, and I've simplified them.

    The government gets only a tiny fraction of what they used to.

  • Hyperion||

    I plan to semi-retire to a rural southern area in mabye 5 years, take part time work, relax, do fun stuff, sort of like you are doing.

  • ||

    My parents, after raising us in the Cosby manner (you're outta here when you're 18!!), are now saying how nice it would be if I could find work in Western NC. Coincidentally, they live in Western NC.

  • Rasilio||

    I don't tell my kids they are out when they are 18, but I do tell them that when they turn 18 they will either be in school or paying rent or out on their own

  • kinnath||

    At my son's 13th birthday party, I asked if he was having fun, then told him to enjoy it while he could, because in 5 years he was out of here.

  • ||

    Same with my parents, except "in school" implied "out of the house, living in a dorm".

  • JD the elder||

    I went to college in a different city than where I grew up, but once when I was back home during the holidays, I said, "You know, I think even if I'd gone to college here, I would have moved out." My mom replied, "Oh, you would have moved out."

  • RightNut||

    ...and play video games all day. They have been conditioned to believe that hard work is for chumps. "Why work? The government or my parents will take care of me." Kids watch reality TV shows like "The Deadliest Catch" and marvel at men who work hard each day at their job, catching fish.

    Meh, never liked Deadliest Catch, and for some "catching fish" all day would not be considered a stressful job.

  • Zeb||

    I'm guessing that working on an Alaskan crab boat is probably pretty stressful for even the most committed angler.

  • Loki||

    Something tells me Ron Hart's never actually watched Deadliest Catch. If he had he would know that they're crab fishermen, not fish fishermen. He might also realize that what they do goes a little further than just "working hard each day at their job." A lot of people work hard at their job each day, but their jobs don't involve a high likelyhood of being maimed or killed, and therefore wouldn't make compelling TV (not that Deadliest Catch is compelling TV either).

  • entropy||

    From what I've seen of commercials and promos all the compelling TV drama of crab fishing comes from the workers staging exagerated emo arguments for the cameras (You're not my real father! He screwed my wife! I quit! You're fired!) and making it seem like crab fishing has a 97% mortality rate.

  • $park¥||

    They pack 3-4 months(?) of crab fishing season into 15 hours of television. To think those 15 hours are accurate would be like saying you can demonstrate climate change based on 30 years worth of data.

  • Loki||

    You mean all the drama in a "reality TV show" is manufactured/ deliberately blown out of proportion? The hell you say! /sarc

    Yeah, I get pretty much the same impression, which is why I've never watched the show either. Watching a bunch of emo twats scream and yell at each other isn't my idea of entertainment.

  • ||

    I don't know if the drama is manufactured, given what I hear about the meth and coke consumption of the fishermen.

  • ||

    Some of the carbbers fish cod if the weather is right. But I don't think Hart was referring to that.

  • Loki||

    They have been conditioned to believe that hard work is for chumps.

    Incentives, how do they fucking work?

    And that alt-text? "Magna cum PARTY!" That doesn't sound like the kind of party I'd want to be invited to. I wouldn't want to go to a normal cum party, much less a magna cum party. That sounds like the kind of thing that goes on in Warty's basement each weekend.

  • WTF||

    Magnum cum Warty?

  • entropy||

    Well, working kind of is for chumps these days. I need an EBT.

  • thom||

    I might take some heat for this, but within most big corporations these days, hard work does not pay off, except for a few lucky people at the top who often got there more through luck than ability. The people at the top take "risks" that are really only risky to the people working underneath them. When the company goes under the CEO takes a golden parachute and keeps living in his house and driving his car and sending his kids to private school, the people who get laid off with two weeks of severance might not be so lucky.

    I realize that none of this is exactly new, but the discrepancy in payoffs are getting more and more ridiculous.

    I don't blame anybody who realizes early on that the game is largely rigged and not worth playing. I'm all for letting people run their companies however they want, but that doesn't mean I'm going to disparage people who refuse to participate.

  • Rasilio||

    Agreed, hard work is for suckers. What you need to survive in corporate America is to work smarter, much bigger payoff.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Plus you need a bigger plate.

  • Loki||

    Combine what you said with the fact that you can now stay on your parents health insurance until 26, EBT cards, food stamps, unemployment benefits that don't run out for almost 2 years (if you had a job and got laid off), and all the other trappings of the wellfare state. And if you do get a job, like you pointed out success depends as much or more on luck than skill, and the disincentive to save through riduculously low interest rates etc, etc...

    Like I said, "Incentives, how do they fucking work?" Our society as a whole has disincenticised hard work. We shouldn't be surprised that some poeple have caught on that it's a rigged game and refuse to play along.

  • kinnath||

    Let us assume your hypothesis is true. Then we only need to find one example to disprove it. I have been extremely successful working for big corportations by working my butt off (as have almost all the managers I have ever worked with here).

    So you hypothesis if false. Go get a reall fucking job ;-)

  • UnCivilServant||

    Did you control for all external variables?

  • hotsy totsy||

    Uh huh. And these are the same corporatists who get bailouts. If you vote for politicians who grant bailouts, then don't bitch to me.

  • Mr. Soul||

    Hart made at least one other point: govt schools suck. Anyone saying that at a graduation had me at hello.

  • Loki||

    Yeah, if he had stuck with that instead of going off on a "you kids today with your video games and your TV shows" rant, and had instead continued with the whole "government is fucking you over" theme it would have been a lot better.

  • $park¥||

    Meh, as far as I'm concerned it's a perfectly valid rant. I don't have data, but I'm willing to be that the number of kids expecting a free ride these days is much higher than it used to be.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    So the old people are the ones who tuk are jobs?

  • entropy||

    It's like goobacks from the past.

    Revenge of the Unemployed Buggy-Whip Maker.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Maybe if we make a better past they will stay there?

  • kinnath||

    My wife and I are in our 50's. She has been formally written up for harming the delicate sensibilities of her 20-something co-workers.

  • ||

    We used to have this (it includes an actual inflatable ball) in the office, when it was just a bunch of old farts. When we got an influx of young'uns, it suddenly disappeared. I hear tell some people were "offended" by it, even though it was all in good fun. I still have the mini version on my desk.

  • kinnath||

    My wife told one of her coworkers to put her big-girl-panties on and stop whining.

  • $park¥||

    All it takes is one humorless asshole to ruin the environment for everybody.

  • kinnath||

    So are you saying the coworker or my wife is the humorless asshole (cause I got to admit that after 37 years with me, I have pretty much wiped out her sensor of humor)?

  • $park¥||

    No, quite the opposite. Some people just can't take a little light mocking and get all uptight about it. There are enough of those people around the building I work in that essentially nobody is allowed to have fun.

  • $park¥||

    Sorry, the coworker is the humorless asshole.

  • kinnath||

    I figure ;-)

  • Mr. Soul||

    i can even take all the uptightness. Its the worldview that "this must change now because I am here" which i resent.

    I wish they would just give themselves a 5 year time out before breaking the glass and pulling the alarm.

  • Irish||

    She has been formally written up for harming the delicate sensibilities of her 20-something co-workers.

    Let me tell you a story. I recently had an internship in a law office as a paralegal. This job consisted of filing shit, labeling things and pushing carts around. The last day of work, my supervisor gave me an evaluation so I could know how I'd done. She basically told me 'You did really great, which is good because our last several interns were completely terrible. They wouldn't stop whining about doing work, and half of them didn't seem to know what they were doing at all.'

    This is a job that takes virtually no skill beyond a very minimal ability to follow directions. The fact that the bunch of 20-ish people who preceded me were unable to do a job like that makes me think that an awful lot of my generation's unemployment might be the result of gross incompetence.

  • John||

    Not much incompetence, but an unwillingness to start at the bottom. One of my roommates in college mom was a grade school teacher. Had been for well over 20 years at that point. She said that Sesame Street ruined education and generations of kids in this country. That is quite an iconoclastic statement but hear her out on her reason for saying that.

    Sesame Street put the idea in every kid's head that learning is fun and that if it is not that it is the fault of the teacher. Of course learning isn't always fun. And in fact the most rewarding learning is often really hard. But kids and really the entire last two generations have this idea that anything that is not fun is not worth doing. And that is very corrosive.

  • kinnath||

    Well, I actually believe that learning is fun and if it's not it's the fault of the teacher.

    Public education assumes one-size fits all and anyone that doesn't succeed is a failure. I got into a big argument with one of my kid's teachers way back when about teachers needing to make an effort to reach kids that didn't learn the "normal" way.

    But yes, work is work. If it was fun, people wouldn't demand to get paid to do it.

  • John||

    And a lot of learning requires work. Just hard work. It may not be miserable. But it isn't always fun. If it were always fun, it wouldn't be challenging.

  • ||

    Challenges can be fun though. That's why there should be a bigger effort to learn from video games. They do a fantastic job of keeping kids (and adults) playing for hours on end, even when they are insanely difficult. Why? Because of the continuous stream of positive feedback and rewards given to the player for every little goal and achievement reached. That's the hook, and that's what we need in school.

  • UnCivilServant||

    The first Entry level job I held, the company had deliberately designed a promotion schema so as to prevent those people who worked at the bottom from ever rising above that station. Made it kind of difficult to go anywhere without leaving the company. From the evidence of my co-workers, it wasn't an unwillingness to start at the bottom and work up, there was just that slow realization that they were not being allowed to work up.

  • Rasilio||

    Kind of like I have never been promoted in my life and very few people that I have ever met have.

    In fact from what I have seen getting promoted is very damaging to your career because it means staying in the same company in the same role for at least a decade which means that everyone is going to wonder why you never moved up.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Bravo, Rasilio.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Irish, you have just echoed the same miserable stories I have heard from two different Chicago area lawyers.

    Can't get simple paralegal or secretarial help at all.

  • Marc F Cheney||

    Really? My wife is dying for her first full-time paralegal job in Chicago, she's extremely competent, she was told she's doing "fabulous" work at her part-time gig, and yet can't get the time of day from anyone.

  • hotsy totsy||

    They were interns, so basically working for free, no? Wonder how hard the lawyers would work if their clients didn't pay them.

  • ||

    I've had various far-lefty friends say how work is slavery and that we won't be entirely free until we're all artistes living on communes or some shit.

    I wonder if any of them know how horrible conditions were on actual communes (no one taking care of hygiene or trash disposal or harvesting crops - because they all wanted to ponder existence and make pottery) that were set up in the wake of the Summer of Love?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Being an artist sounds like slavery to me. Making things work via software sounds fun.

  • ||

    Me too. If my work doesn't somehow involve logic or problem-solving, I'm extremely unhappy. That's why I got into web development and left "international relations" behind long, long ago.

  • ||

    I take a different message from this.
    Aging boomers are stealing jobs and opportunities and money from younger workers.

    If oyu look at the Labor Force participation chart, it's clear that what is driving the decline in LFP is NOT (as some have suggested) boomers retiring early. In fact, it looks like boomers are delaying retirement, perhaps because they havn't saved enough money. (You can look up statistics confirming this if you care to.)

    Meanwhile, the bad economy seems to have pushed teens out of the workforce, as well as young adults. Some may be staying in college longer because they can't get jobs.

    Pile this onto how ObamaCare, Social Security and Medicare screw over younger generations, and you can't really blame the kids if they are having a hard time. I really doubt if they are driving past those help wanted signs at Starbucks.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    What's the point of getting a job if you already have your parents insurance?

  • ||

    True. Especially since once you get off your parents insurance, you're certain to get ass-raped at the "exchanges".

    But to me, the chart says clearly that older people are working MORE, and younger people are working LESS. That's necessarily by choice. It could be that younger people are working less because it a tight job market and they have no experience. So older, more experienced people who are staying the workforce are pushing them out.
    The change in LFP for the 25-50 age group is irrelevant. The big trend is older people taking the jobs that used to be occupied by teens.

  • ||

    er NOT necessarily by choice.

  • kinnath||

    Aging boomers are not stealing entry-level minium-wage food-service jobs that are traditionally the source of the first paycheck a teenager gets.

    Ron Hart was writing teenaged slobs with enormous senses of entitlement.

  • ||

    Why are we assuming that the teenagers are entitled? The fact that they are less likely to have jobs isn't necessarily because they CHOOSE not to have jobs.
    A lot of it could be because employers are less willing to risk hiring an inexperienced teenager these days because of the costs associated with taking on a new employee.

    It's an open question.
    Are teens dropping out of the workforce because they are lazy, or are they getting pushed out of the workforce?

  • Irish||

    If it's because they're lazy, then it seems odd that this laziness suddenly began between 2005 and 2010. I doubt teenagers magically got lazier in that five year period.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That is absolutely the case right now. My son has applied for dozens of jobs and can't even get an interview. And the economy isn't even supposed to be that bad here compared to a lot of other cities. People just don't want to hire inexperienced teens still in school, when there are so many older people available at the same wage.

    On the other hand, he WILL find a job eventually because he won't stop looking. But I can see why a lot of kids just give up at some point, especially if their parents aren't applying any pressure.

  • GW||

    This is a chicken and egg problem. All of the teenagers I know are worthless. Actually, that may be giving them too much credit. They've never had to do chores at home, or keep rooms clean, and they all sit around and play on iPhones, computers, and game consoles.

    So you can imagine what their work ethic is like (hint: nonexistent). So, employers who are looking for entry level workers, which used to mean hiring almost exclusively teenagers years ago, now are looking towards older folks and immigrants (many of them illegal), because they need workers that will actually WORK.

  • kinnath||

    Few teenagers work because their too fucking lazy and their parents overindulge their kids.

    There are few things that piss me off more that seeing rude, useless teenagers using $500 iPhones.

  • ||

    Relax gramps.

  • JW||

    Why are we assuming that the teenagers are entitled?

    Because, for the most part, they do feel entitled.

    I see it in my own spawn, despite doing nothing to encourage it. In fact, I've gone out of my way to discourage it time and time again, usually culminating in me mocking (nicely, kinda) their precious sensibilities of what they should have.

    The Boy is worse than the She-Spawn, but he's always been a consumerist slut, while she typically asks for very little (a Hot Topic shopping outing usually does the trick). She still has the attitude of what she be allowed to to do and doesn't like the "because you're a kid" response.

  • General Butt Naked||

    She still has the attitude of what she be allowed to to do and doesn't like the "because you're a kid" response.

    I'd be more scared if she accepted that explanation without question.

  • ||

    And it trickles down. Look at the steep dropoff for teenagers. It is also interesting that the trend of more older folk staying employed had begun well before the recession.

  • ||

    Kind of puts the lie to talk of age discrimination in hiring. We're seeing a bazillion articles about people in their 50s who can't find a job. But nothing about teenagers who can't find employment. It's perception. The people running the media today are boomers in their 50s and 60s, so they are concerned with the welfare of other boomers in their 50s and 60s. Even though the statistics show that 60-64 year olds today are more likely to find employment than 16-20 year olds.

  • John||

    The truth is as usual in the middle. Part of why so many kids are living at home so long is because the job market is horrible. That is not their fault.

    That said, our public education system and our parents have done a horrible job on the whole of educating this generation. The entire "self esteem" movement and the sad obsession some people have with ensuring their children never face any kind of hardship or are allowed to take any risks, has produced a whole lot of whinny self entitled people in this generation.

  • ||

    We had this in my middle school. My friends and I thought it was hilarious.

  • Irish||

    The entire "self esteem" movement and the sad obsession some people have with ensuring their children never face any kind of hardship or are allowed to take any risks, has produced a whole lot of whinny self entitled people in this generation.

    This is kind of accurate. People mistake it for laziness, but it's really not. Laziness implies an unwillingness to work, but a lot of people I know who really fuck up at the workplace were great students who worked hard in class. 20-somethings just really are not prepared to work once they leave school, and a lot of them aren't prepared to do work out from the watchful eye of their parents.

    I've seen studies showing that rates of depression among college students have skyrocketed far beyond the rate of the rest of society over the last two decades. It seems to me that parents don't allow their children to develop independence, so that kids just aren't prepared to go out into the world, and fall flat on their faces when they do.

  • Art Vandelay||

    Several years ago, my wife was conducting a year-end evaluation with a young guy who reported to her. He tried to conference in his dad to help him negotiate a raise.

  • From the Tundra||

    Someone linked this the other day:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com.....tion-wimps

    Good and seemingly accurate article.

  • John||

    Yup. I have also read that research into cognitive development consistently shows that being exposed to new and unfamiliar situation and the perception of risk and danger are essential to cognitive development in children. If you don't allow your kids to take some risk, experience some fear and over come it, and have new experiences, you are harming their cognitive development.

  • kinnath||

    My wife and I had a policy of benign neglect.

    We would watch our young kids do stuff that was certain to lead them to getting hurt (and I mean the usual bumps, bruizes, and scrapes, not serious injuries). It is important for kids to learn that actions have consequences.

    We had cacti in the house when the kids were toddlers. They only touch them once.

  • Ruckus||

    My wife and I engage in debates over this stuff quite a bit. I'm a big believer in the "he'll only do it once" mantra, she's more on the cautious side.

    It actually works out very well. If I was single-parenting the boy, chances are my independence building way of parenting might have led to some more than minor injuries or other problems. If the wife was single-parenting, the boy would be over protected.

  • kinnath||

    We would watch them get hurt (crash the bigwheels into something at fall over), then refuse to go to them. We'd force them to come to us; we'd quiet and rationally ask them what hurt; we'd check them out; and then explain how their actions caused them to get whatever little hurt they got.

    It's shocking, but if you talk to a 4 year old like he/she is an adult, they stop crying pretty quickly.

    It's the OMG! overbearing mother reaction that actually heightens the trauma.

  • JW||

    It's the OMG! overbearing mother reaction that actually heightens the trauma.

    Welcome to the new normal.

    I want to take The Boy to a paint ball center for his 13th birthday, with a couple of his friends. I'm getting from the wife-unit "OMG, I didn't know they looked like guns!" and "You can get hurt doing that!" and "There will be more than a few mothers who won't allow their kid to go." because of the gun thing.

    And no, I'm not making any of this up; those are quotes. We are so fucked.

  • John||

    It's shocking, but if you talk to a 4 year old like he/she is an adult, they stop crying pretty quickly.

    That drives me nuts about some parents. Unless a kid has really hurt themselves, most they are crying because they are startled and scared. So the parent running over and making a big deal about what happened just makes them more afraid and more upset by affirming their perception what just happened is a big deal and really bad. But if the parent is calm, the kid, assuming he is not seriously hurt, is likely to calm down.

    For the life of me I can't understand why that concept is so hard for some people to grasp.

  • Ruckus||

    yeah. We both ignore the crying, whether it's from minor injury or from getting mad/upset. Our son is 4, so he still has the occasional fit over not getting a toy to do exactly what he wants it to do. I just tell him I'll help him when he stops and calmly asks me for help. Sometimes that's 15 sec, sometimes that's 4 min, his choice.

    My wife is just more cautious in trying to prevent the random minor accident than I am. Like I said, I'm glad their is a dueling nature in the house though.

  • Ruckus||

    *our son is 3, not 4.

  • John||

    Ruckus,

    As I read some of the research on kids that age, I have become more understanding of why they are the way they are. At three, kids don't have any experience to draw upon to give an event context. They also have limited language skills and self awareness to recognize and express what is wrong.

    It really has to be a terrible frustrating world if you are three. You have little or no control over anything. You have two people (your parents) whom you completely trust depend on for really everything in your life. Yet they are constantly telling you "no" and taking things from you and making you do things the reason for which is a complete mystery to you. And to top it off when you get mad or want something to change, a good portion of the time you don't know how to tell them what you want.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Jesus John, that sounds like the wet-dream utopia of the modern progressive.

  • kinnath||

    People were always amazed at how well behaved my kids were even during the preschool years. And I would tell people you talk to a 3 year old like you talk to any adult, then you watch them respond.

    They really only have body language at that age, but they can understand grown up language pretty well if you let them.

  • kinnath||

    I used to waste lots of breath explaining to other parents (and buttinskis) that crying is speech. There's mad crying, and sad crying, and scared crying, and ouch crying, and oh my fucking god I hurt crying. Just listen and respond accordingly.

  • John||

    Good points about body language and crying Kenneth. And they do understand a lot of what you say. And like anyone else, someone telling them why something is the way it is rather than "fuck you that is why" can often have a calming effect.

  • kinnath||

    You remember these comments should you ever decide to raise a crop of your own ;-)

  • Ruckus||

    John,

    You are absolutely right. I've read a lot of similar studies and research. Basically by the age of 2 a child has the cognitive ability to understand and accomplish a surprisingly number of tasks, but lack the social skills, gross/fine motor skills, and verbal/non-verbal communication skills to express or accomplish their desires. The frustration from the inability to express one self that leads to the "terrible-2". Our son never had issues with coordination or motor skills, but really didn't talk much until he was almost 3, which lead to a lot of frustration for the entire household.

    Getting a toddler to be semi-independent (relative for age), understand emotional responses, and to communicate effectively is challenging. Talking to them like an adult is the most effective way to encourage good behavior.

  • hotsy totsy||

    I had that dynamic with my husband when my kids were little. Except he was the more cautious one.

  • ||

    Or it could be not to much older people taking "teenage" jobs, but the entire age-range for various jobs getting shifted upwards. 20-somethings are now occupying the jobs that teens used to take, 30-somethings have the jobs that used to go to 20-somethings and so on. And it's all driven by a shitty job market and more people hanging onto their careers later in life.

  • John||

    It is also driven by the minimum wage laws and the various labor laws. The risk of being sued has gotten so high, many businesses are unwilling to risk hiring a teenager. If the teenager does something stupid like hit on another employee or drop a racial slur, you can get sued. It used to be that sort of behavior would result in at most firing someone or telling them to stop. Now it can cost a business thousands. Given that, it is understandable that business look to hire mature people who already have a proven work record.

  • From the Tundra||

    I've got a contractor friend who absolutely won't hire 20-something white guys (He's a 50-something white guy, btw). He says it never works out - always wanting time off, asking for raises after 2 weeks on the job, not showing up on time, etc. His crews are mainly Russian and Hmong now.

  • Hyperion||

    Kids these days are the biggest wimps. When I was a teen, I used to go down to my grandparents place in KY and work in the tobacco fields, and help putting up hay in barns, in 90+ weather with high humidity.

    Any boy who refused to work like that, back then, would be labeled a sissy by the other kids.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    You left out the part where you walked, barefoot, to school in 3-feet of snow and uphill. Going to and from.

  • Hyperion||

    I've already told that story here. I just left out the part about all the milfs I nailed on my way to and back.

  • ||

    Yeah, but did you simultaneously win a surfing and weightlifting championship on your commute?

  • Hyperion||

    No, that was Super Dunphy.

  • John||

    I did a lot of farm work as a kid. I hated it. But it was good for me.

  • JD the elder||

    I dunno if things are any different now than they used to be. Screwing around has always been more fun than working. I always liked this bit, from Elbert Hubbard's "A Message To Garcia":


    No man, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, & half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, & sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant.

    Dude wrote that in 1899.

  • Ted S.||

    I wonder if it's also driven by having jobs that used to require only a HS diploma now requiring a college degree, which forces young people to spend four more years before getting a real job.

  • Rasilio||

    I think there is something to this, certainly at the bottom of the ladder.

    I think it is at least in part driven by 2 different things.

    First, the added regulatory costs and higher minimum wage of having an employee makes taking on a 17 year old simply unprofitable.

    Second, the credential inflation we were talking about yesterday

  • hotsy totsy||

    Also people are much healthier and likely to be active at later ages than years ago.
    When Social Security was implemented, most workers didn't make it to 65, and if they did, they didn't collect years and years of Social Security.

    Now at 65 a person has a couple or three decades to collect Social Security.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Another example is if someone worked thirty years for a large company, or had a government job with a good pension, they could retire at 48. They would probably figure on having another forty years to live, and at least thirty years of decent health. So why not start a second career?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    These kids drive right by "Help Wanted" signs at Starbucks and play video games all day. They have been conditioned to believe that hard work is for chumps.

    He's only half-right. Hard work is for chumps...if you aren't working for yourself.

  • Steve G||

    ~facepalm~ suncreen is the next low-fat diet. Ultimately will be proven to be misguided advice...

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