Diving Head-First Into Entitlement

, , , , | Learning | February 23, 2019

(I’m teaching swimming classes, and one of my former students asks if she can interview me for school. She is ten years old, she has to write an essay for schools, and she has picked diving as a subject. I used to be a diver, and she wants to include an interview with “someone who was a diver.” I agree to meet with her for the interview after my classes have ended. I come out to meet the student and encounter her mother.)

Me: “All right, are you ready?”

Mother: “Oh, no, no, she went to the next group, so she has class now.”

Me: “Oh… Well, I can wait for her to finish.”

Mother: “There is no need to; I have the questions here, so we can work ahead.”

Me: “Eh… Sure… I guess… Wow, she has very neat handwriting!”

Mother: “Oh, she didn’t write the questions down; I did.”

(I feel a bit uneasy, because I promised to do the interview with the girl, and now her mother is doing the interview. But, if that helps the girl to get a good grade… there’s no harm in this, right?)

Mother: “Thank you so much for your time! I can’t wait to start working this out.”

Me: “Oh, [Girl] can’t wait to get started on this presentation?”

Mother: “No, no, she has better things to do.”

(That creeping feeling is back again.)

Me: “You really like helping her, don’t you?”

Mother: “Of course; that’s what mothers are for!”

Me: “But shouldn’t she be doing this herself, then?”

Mother: “Don’t worry; there’s plenty of time for her to do things on her own. You know how kids are. One day they just don’t want to listen to their mothers anymore and then they just fly out. Besides, I’m having way too much fun! When I was small, we didn’t have such things as Powerpoints… or even videos! And their homework sheets are just so much fun to do! I always wonder what she’ll come home with.”

(The mother laughs as I realize she is not only making this presentation for her daughter, she is also doing her homework! The girl is by no means a spoiled brat, but things suddenly click about passive behavior and always giving up if something doesn’t work out the first try. Then, the lesson ends.)

Girl: “Mom, did you do the interview?” *her mother nods* “Oh, and you packed the wrong shirt for this class; this shirt is too heavy to swim with. I told you that last time.”

Mother: “Oh, I am so sorry! I won’t pack that shirt again.”

Me: “You know, why don’t you pack your bags yourself? Then you can be sure you have the right stuff!”

(The girl just stares at me as if I’ve told her I teach dinosaurs how to swim. The mother laughs.)

Mother: “Oh, dear, she’s much too young for that! “

(I know my mother was strict with ordering me to pack my own bags at age four — checking it afterward — and teaching me about consequences if I forgot something, but this was the other side of the spectrum. This girl will have to go to high school in two years and then face the harsh reality where she has to do her own homework and her own reports and pack her own bag — things her mother has sheltered her from. If nothing changes, I’ve witnessed the birth of a special snowflake, caused by mother’s love.)

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