Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Respect

I just had what ended as a very sad conversation with my daughter about respect.

I raised my kids to acknowledged people and to say thanks when someone does something kind to or for them. Apparently, I am out of line expecting adults to, at least, acknowledge when I do a kindness for them.

In the case of strangers or near strangers, I'm often baffled when they can't manage a "thanks," but in the case of my niece, I'm full on offended and saying so to my daughter, who is very, very close to my niece and always has been, caused my daughter to hang up on me.

I am amazed at - and happy about - the extent to which my daughter will go to to support and defend her cousin. It's confirmation that to a large extent, how I feel people should treat each other has sunk in with her.

What's sad, though, is that I'm not sure that same defence comes my way.

Earlier this year, my niece spent nearly 30 days essentially living in my house, eating my food, using our utilities. During that month, we travelled by car seven hours to visit my daughter. I asked for gas money and told my niece that food was her responsibility. She didn't ante up more than $25 for the entire week, gas, food lodgings.

Neither here nor there did she lift a finger. She didn't wash a dish; she didn't offer to buy food; she didn't - not once - say "Thanks Auntie, I know I've been here a lot."

I was annoyed to be sure but I let it go. I know this kid and I know she's not concious of how she's acting. Her parents have spoiled her bloody rotten - not her fault - so she's as close to incapable of realising that she's a sucker fish.

What sent me over was an incident about six weeks later, when we ran into her at the local grocery store. This kid has never ever suffered for money, thanks to parents are generous, very much to a fault and who've spoiled their kids. So when I discovered my neice going through my grocery cart, eating food that I needed at home and that I hadn't yet paid for, I was furious and insulted and disgusted. I wrote her an explained why I was so annoyed. She didn't bother to respond. I know she recieved that message - she discussed it with someone else - so I'm even more annoyed that she didn't acknowledge to me.

My daugther and I were talking about it this morning and she, rightfully so, suggested I let it go because, despite my being appaled at my neice's behaviour, there is nothing I can do to change it.

My question is at what point is someone old enough to acknowledge that despite their having a right to live their life as they wish, they will offend people and that they are, I think, responsble for at the very least acknowledging when they've pissed somone off. I also think adults don't take endlessly and that they don't take other people for granted.

That statement caused my daughter to hang up on me. I must say I'm angry and confused and I feel really, really trampled upon, not only by my neice, for whom I've utterly lost respect, but by my daughter who will so intensely defend her spoiled cousin but who would not rise to my defense.

Am I wrong to expect at the least an acknowledgement?

I think not.