I love parties for the same reason you do. It's not the clothes, the music, or the people. It's the food. There's something I can't place my finger on that makes party food different (probably the wood smoke).
Recently, my sister and I had to attend the burial of a secondary school colleague. He wasn't very old but he wasn't a young man. He was in his sixties. Wanting to be fashionably late in conjunction with other options, when we got there there were no seats left. After looking around, we noticed a table where two children sat on two chairs. So, my sister offered that we carry the two children on our laps and one of the adults at the table said we should ask the children. That was an odd response. Even odder, the children refused. The girl said "I will not be comfortable" and we were told that the boy wouldn't agree. My sister said, "Children of this generation...". My first reaction was that of annoyance. How could a child refuse to get up for an adult who was offering to carry her? But then, I thought it wasn't wrong. She was well within her right despite her age to refuse us.
The truth is that I have given up on this generation as the future of our nation. We are a generation that accedes and panders to every inane request and because of this, not unlike Esau, we have lost our birthright to older people who came late to the party.
There's nothing wrong with saying "No". There's nothing wrong with standing up for your own principles in the face of someone older than you. Children should be allowed to know at an early age to know what is good for them and what isn't. They should also be allowed to make choices for their well-being.
However, the truth is that children learn also by imitation. Our generation of yes-men didn't become that way by default. It was a curious blend of observation, survival and a decision to not rock the boat. As adults or young adults, we have a role to play in allowing the children coming up be the best they can. It might be too late for us to start over but it's not too late to try. The growth of a child is a beautiful thing and stifling it is like crushing a bird before it learns to fly. Curiosity in children should be encouraged and not dampened.
When we teach our children values, we should stand by them. When we get to queues, don't jump the line while playing the age card. While at home, don't avoid chores or delegate them because you're older. Don't demand that a younger person get up for you because after all you're older.
Of course, the question now is, shouldn't the elderly be accorded respect? My answer is this, not at the expense of a younger person's own self respect and not merely because he/she is older. The onus is on us to provide guidelines that will help younger generations decide when to give up a seat for the elderly, when to assist an aged woman withdraw money from the Atm.
Then, if all else fails it wouldn't be because we didn't teach them but because they failed to learn. I look forward to a generation of no-sayers.
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