What brats! I am tired and hungry and the restaurant is crowded and loud. The kids sitting closest to me are loud and rude, flipping straws at each other and whining about getting hit by straws. They bug the waitress for a refill every time she passes by and then complain that it takes too long and doesn’t taste right. Brats.
What makes it worse is that the brats are at my table because, sigh, these bratty teens are my children.
Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said that, by 40, you have the face you deserve. As much as I hate to admit it, I likely have the brats, er, children I deserve.
Instead of continuing to feel my blood pressure rise, I make peace with the facts as they stand today and, instead of reacting, I decide to simply observe.
We, as a family, lived under an oppressive rule for a good long time. The break up (break out) could have been handled more gracefully. What came next was a bloody war and a long period of suffering as we began to build an identity and claim our places in the world.
Part of that process involved — required maybe — developing an attitude.
Insecurities, I’ve found, are sometimes prettier when shellacked by a healthy coat of bravado.
As we began to find our way, we became arrogant. Had to. If we weren’t worth saving, what was the point of all the trouble?
We have come out of the war and are rebuilding. Our independence was won through struggle and strife, but we were sustained through it all by our firm ideology — an unwavering belief that what we are is pretty freaking awesome.
Once we had gained our independence, we almost destroyed what we had won through fighting among ourselves.
There is a ceasefire now but sometimes shots still ring out.
Abraham Lincoln himself couldn’t put us back together completely, but we do manage to coexist and are, at the end of the day, in this together.
Having said that, I pity the fool who threatens us as a group. We will fight to the death for each other when threatened.
An unexpected thing can happen when young ones have had to struggle to be free.
Once the smoke clears and the dust settles, there is a sort-of sunburn from the spotlight. It’s hard to just be men among men. To not hold a mistaken belief that you are somehow more special than others when, in fact, you are not.
Just a young country in a crowded and loud world.
In a world increasingly tired and increasingly hungry and increasingly less patient with brats.
Just some young kids in a crowded and loud restaurant, being brats. Too loud and obnoxious. Throwing things and wasting food and demanding more than their share.
Kids who have been allowed to bluster and boss because of what they’ve been through and because, sure, they are pretty freaking awesome.
Just some young kids who need to sit up straight and put their napkins in their laps and grow-up-already and behave!
There is a temptation to yell at them or yank them out of there and send the to bed with no dinner.
After a good while of watching them act out, I make a quiet decision to instead just not invite them to the table for a while.
Until they grow up a bit.
And stop being brats.
My kids and my country, brats all around. Still, loved.
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