Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Conscience of the Kid

Today, I overheard a snippet of a phone conversation between a mother and her grown son or daughter. It seems the child had some sort of surgery a while ago, from which she/he has recovered. At he time of the surgery, the kid was issued a "handicapped" tag for his/her car. The mom was saying, "Well, that's a lie. When you change the date on a tag, you are lying!"

So I was trying to deduce the other end of the conversation. Mom says, "To anyone who sees the tag, that's who!" Mom went on to say, "You can try and justify it any way you want to, it's still a lie!"

I would like to have jumped in there. It's not only a lie, it's theft. I don't care if there are 17 "handicapped" parking places. The Austin chapter of "Wheelchairs Without Walkers" might suddenly descend on wherever this lazy, selfish twit of a kid has parked his or her vehicle, and need every spot there is.

I remember taking Addy to the grocery store, and seeing not one accessible parking space. On checking, I noted that only about half of the cars in those spaces had "handicapped" plates or tags.

I went straight to Customer Service and complained. Not nicely, either.

The people who deserve those spots fall into several categories. The vast majority of them are old. People who have worked their butts off all their lives (who didn't, in our parents' generation?) and survived this long deserve to have a parking place in the front. Period. Never mind that you are speaking English thanks to a lot of them.

Those who are caregivers for those who can no longer go everywhere on their own have tags, too. Would you like to have to schlep your mother in a wheelchair or with a walker, from the far reaches of the parking lot? If it were Addy, she would be tired by the time we got to the door, frustrated with herself for being so, and grumpy with me for witnessing her weakness.

There are also the people who have temporary tags for the same reasons you have. Surgery, an injury, whatever. I bet, in the weeks following your surgery, you would have considered yourself to be hard done by if you had found spots all filled with expired tags!

And some young people, quite fit-looking, have permanent tags or plates, too. Trust me, those tags make a huge difference. Trust me, arthritis can strike in youth, and so can many other illnesses that sap a person's strength.

While I type these words, I feel my mother at my shoulder, because the attitude is hers. My conscience frequently speaks to me in her voice.

As parents, we spend eighteen years, or whatever number of years we get, trying to convince our kids that doing the right thing is a life skill. We try to do this in the face of negative messages that surround our kids for much of the time they are away from us. The music, the movies, the games, all appear to forsake integrity for rebellion. Parents fight a constant and uphill battle to instill that conscience.

I think this kid had told his/her mother about this, either with a snippy attitude: "I'm being selfish and lying and you can't stop me," or just wanted to hear a couple of bars of Jiminy Cricket's tune from "Pinocchio."

I guess you know they're grown up with they conjure your voice on their own, without using up your minutes.


  1. The next time that mom visits she should swipe his HC tag and destroy it.

  2. I got one of those tags when I was having my treatment, but I never used it.

    Sometime, somewhere, something has gone wrong with humanity. When I think of British youth, we are raising a generation of monsters.

  3. My daughter has taught my grandson to be kind, generous, helpful, respectful and colour blind, but that is not what he sees in others?

  4. We ARE raising a generation of monsters. That's what all these crimes against women and children are all about.

    Somehow, we are failing in raising kids with consciences.

    Small inconsiderations like stealing a parking space don't really mean much in the grand scheme of things, but the fact remains that every time a person does something like that and gets away with it, it chips away at whatever conscience they do have. I was very glad the mom I overheard was giving her child a hard time about it.

    We try to teach our kids to be fair and honest and all those lovely things, in the hope that they will grow up to be like that, and will improve the world by their shining example.

    Didn't work for us--I don't know why we expect it to, for our kids. It's all we can do, I guess.

  5. Thank you for including young, seemingly able-bodied people in the list. I had my eyes opened there when I worked with a young lady of 22 who -looked- fine, but had a permanent placard. She had rheumatoid arthritis, and couldn't walk all that far, but she constantly got hell from people assuming she was faking or using someone else's placard.

  6. I used my temp tag for longer than I should have, and I am not a youth. Granted I did it at work, where there were NO handicapped people at the time (except ONE time during Christmas season and there WERE a lot of handicapped spaces left) But I didnt alter the date and I didnt use it past the expiration date. They gave me six MONTHS for a broken foot!

    That confession made, and as I face spinal surgery, I totally agree. And I REALLY hope this surgery doesnt require me to get a permanent tag.

  7. I am sorry you have to face such a challenge, Melissa.

  8. @ Lisa F - my sister has PA, which is like RA but with a kick. She has had it since puberty, if you could see her feet you would faint. They are VERY hard to look at, as well as her hands. In fact she uses her wrists to steer.

    And she very rarely uses her perm tags. She didnt even get them for her license plate, because if she doesnt need them that day she wont.

    Arthritis sucks big time, especially when it starts very young.

  9. That's why it SO pizzes me off when kids who are et up with health use the space just because they can.

  10. Not to multi post here, though I am.

    The irony is SO well, ironic. Apparently the fall that broke my foot is what set into motion why I need spinal surgery now.

    And thanks Ronni, I wont be doing it until after the holidays because well I just dont WANT to! And I have yet to have my second opinion yet. Which I want. But the MRI tells no lies me thinks.

  11. My back is always dodgy and has been so since I was pregnant with Chandra. I think I'm keeping the naproxin and ibuprofin manufacturers in business. Chandra is 31, so it has been a while.

  12. HI Ronni:

    I was having trouble with back pain of unexplained origin. I was swimming everyday--but that didnt seem to help.

    I started the Podcast series: Podrunner Interval: First day to 5K (free download on iTunes) and in just three weeks of exercising to this podcast every other day--my back pain is gone!!

    And the music is hypnotic!! Hard to believe that I cannot wait to exercise again tomorrow. I used to dread it.


  13. Sigh.

    The trouble with exercise is that you have to do it FOREVER!

    I am so lazy.