Tuesday, December 8, 2009

IrishTown: Kids

I've got multiple sacks of groceries:

"I could carry those in for you," B-- said. "Then you could pay me fifty cents."

"Need help with those?" An eight-year-old this time.

"Hey, your dog." (Rosie on a sit-stay, guarding my car, my stuff, my open door.) "Is he friendly?"
"Yeah, she's very nice. Her name is Rosie."
"I could watch your stuff," the kid said. "Then the dog could go in. That's worth a quarter, isn't it?"

"I think I'm all done, but thanks," I said. "I might have a quarter, let me check."

They buy Christmas presents for their grandma at the resale shop, formerly the abandoned furniture shop. Dirty china figurines, someone's discarded craft project.
"That is very nice of you," I say. "Your grandma, she's special, huh?"

They shuffle their feet. That means yes, grandma is special--but they also feel guilty because they bought a candy bar too, for themselves. All over the mall, shoppers are buying one for Uncle Jones and one for themselves. But the either-or shows up more starkly around here.

Something happens to these kids at around age ten or twelve, and I know what it is. They get tired of looking for work. They get tired of trying to carry the load for a quarter. They learn a dirty china figurine is something to be laughed at. They get a little hard, and it doesn't go away.

2 comments:

Slamdunk said...

Your last sentence is a good observation.

Do you agree with the social scientists who state that they can select, with a high accuracy, which kids will exhibit delinquent behaviors by age 4?

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I don't know those references, and that seems early to me. I'd be interested to read something like this.

The sentence that flips me is the one about the "laughing at". I saw a lot of "tough parenting" in that neighborhood--I'm not talking about spanking (don't want to debate off-topic parenting techniques) but about screaming abusively at their kid in the street.

Sometimes I thought it was supposed to "toughen" the kid up in a very race-conscious society, but mostly I though it weakened them, made it harder to go on. Wow, a whole other subject.

Ann T.