I typically got as tired of all the “when I was a kid, we didn’t *have* video games or T.V.! We played “Kick the Can” or stickball in the empty lot to have fun… when we weren’t milking the cows at 4 a.m. or bailing hay; that is!” commentary by my elders while a child as anyone else. But they do have a point. I was maybe 8 or 9 when Atari first came out, and perhaps 11 or 12 when we got cable TV. But still. We were nowhere near dependent on those things for entertainment. We built forts and tree houses and created entire riversystems in the gravel driveway. We made mud pies. We played “pretend” a lot. My best friend’s circular driveway made a kick-ass McDonald’s drive-thru on our bikes. That’s when I could be torn away from a book, that is. And when Mt. St. Helens blew and covered everything in 3 inches of ash, that was pretty damned exciting.
So I don’t know that I have a lot of sympathy for these kids. Sure, it’s traumatic to have your whole house ripped away and your world turned upside down. But once the initial shock wears off, doesn’t it kind of sound like FUN, too?? There are all kinds of other kids in the same boat to play pretend with. Incredible stories of survival to swap. Fascinating (and likely dangerous) things to investigate – like damaged trees, debris piles and homeless critters (hopefully not of the crocodillian kind). Nevermind the time-honored tradition of using kids as spies/runners during times of crisis: “Have the Red Cross supplies gotten here yet? Could you please get a bottle of water for Mrs. Anderson? What’s going on over there? Could you go find your Dad and tell him we need to meet the insurance guy at 3:00?” Maybe it's just the rubber-necker in me, but when I was in Hawaii when Hurricane Ineiki blew through, I was actually pretty disappointed in veered away from my location on Maui and hit Kauai instead.
Aside from being in a warzone, living through a hurricane is about as intense, reality wise as you can get. And these kids are “bored” with it? And we’re supposed to pity them for that? I feel for these kids, I truly do. But let’s get some perspective here. They *will* get their electricity back. They *will* get their playstations and TV’s replaced. They will have basic plumbing and sanitary water again in a mater of weeks (if not days). Compare that to their peers in the poorest regions of the rest of the Caribbean/ Gulf who regularly face hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding and mudslides who are damned lucky to get any of that, let alone a freaking playstation!
My kid is going to hate me. My mom used to say "clean your plate - don't you know there are starving children in China who would KILL to have dried meatloaf and brussel sprouts for dinner?" I know - I'm going to be worse. Ten times worse. Because when it comese to knowing how shitty 90% of humanity has it on this spinning little pile of dirt, expecially in comparison to we priveleged 10%, I am the all-knowing oracle. This child will not be able to whine about a single thing in their life without my having 20 different and very specific examples of kids elsewhere around the world who currently have it worse. You don't like broccoli? Kids in Afghanistan are eating grass to survive. Throwing a tantrum over not getting the coolest super-expensive toy du-jour? There are hundreds of thousands of kids in Bangladesh who just had their entire village wiped out in a flood. Their idea of fun right now is poking holes in bloated, stinky dead cow carcasses with a stick. Poor kid. He/She won't stand a chance. Which is sad. Because everyone should have the right to complain about their lot in life, shouldn't they? No matter how unfounded those complaints are in comparison?
Note to self: Try to save the detailed commentary on the atrocities of African genocide until they're at least 12. OK? Kids should dream of puppies. Warm, fuzzy, cute, face-licking puppies. And kittens. Not machete-welding madmen breaking in the door. You should be thankful the chances of your child having to endure any of this shittiness is about nil, and let them enjoy their priveleged world. Not fill their head with nightmares about what their life could have been like if they'd been born somewhere else. Because at the same time, there are orphans in the Third World filling each other's heads with dreams about the same thing. And it's the life of my kid that they're imagining: playstations and expensive tennis shoes and all. Bored in the face of hurricanes, safe in the knowledge that very little, including Mother Nature at her worst - can hurt them. My stories about their lives may bring my child gratitude and appreciation, but their stories about our lives brings them hope. And I don't know which is more important in the grand scheme of things.