Have Parents Forgotten How to Host?
I've been confused since about 4:00pm today when I stopped at my local mall to search for a black blazer (by the way, there are a lot of junk polyester nappy blazers out there).
Naturally, I hadn't eaten all day, so I stopped by the food court for some Chinese Gourmet Express.Hello Lo Mein and General Tso, so lovely to see you since the blazer quest has been thwarted by buyers' bad fabric choices.
Happy. Alone. Eating cheap Chinese.
In front of me in line stood a harried professional looking forty-something mother, her tween, her teen and her teen daughter's friend.
Teen daughter and tween daughter order. Mother orders. Mother pays for her spawn, and ignores the daughters' friend.
I don't mind my own business. I gawk as the scene unfolds.
And the mother-daughter trio walk to the tables and start eating.
Daughter's friend orders something tiny (an egg roll) and a cup of water. She was clearly unprepared to have to pay her own way.
Mother doesn't step in. Daughter doesn't notice. She's too busy chowing down on her trio meal deal. Friend is clearly uncomfortable.
And I'm left wondering: Is this standard and normative? Do we invite our children's friends out and then not actually host them? Do we really do that? I mean, really?
Is that the type of modeling we want to display? Is that our idea of lived, expressed and personified generosity, empathy and kindness?
I know everything is tight right now. I know the economy is beyond depressed.
But seriously? Is this how we scrimp and save? Do we really just "take care of our own" and expect that same coldness in return for our kids? Is thatvokay with us?
And if that is standard, what does that say about our values? What has happened to our hospitality? Don't we truly invite, host and welcome the children of others anymore?
Because if not, I think that's complete garbage. So let's reassess our intentions.
There is better hospitality in Gaza. In the Barrio. In Mogadishu.
It seems like in places where people have nothing, they just aren't so attached to "mine and yours." In fact, it seems to me that true generosity exists most freely in the face of deprivation.
Can't we find the extra four dollars to host our daughter's teenage friend with cheap lo mein?
I mean, if we're honest, and it's our priority, can't we?
I think we can. And if we can't, we should cede our own orange chicken, instead of eating it, rudely, in front of some alienated sixteen year old whom we allowed to tag along.
After all, we've made much bigger sacrifices than that. We're up for it. We're mothers, fathers, parents and adults.
And it's our job to nurture and look out for the next generation, even if they don't share our DNA.
What do you think?