The Kids are Amazing

For many American children, the floor has become their closet. This drives me crazy. I walk into a room where an urchin resides and there are clothes scattered everywhere. Believe me, I know the passive-aggressive tactics that kids use to torture their parents, but something else is going on here.

More than a few times, I've heard parents describe their offspring as "amazing." If you look that word up you will see this meaning: "To cause great wonder or astonishment." That's what amazing means. So occasionally, I will ask the parent of an "amazing" child to tell me exactly why that word applies to the tyke. I mean what is the "great wonder" associated with him or her?

"He just is," comes the usual reply, along with a look that could kill a cactus.

Many children fully realize their parents see them as astonishing creatures and incorporate that into their daily presentations. That is, they throw their stuff on the floor because if you are truly amazing you can pretty much do what you want. Right?

When I confront the urchins about strewn clothing, I sometimes get a blank look. So I read their minds. And the brain wave comes back this way: "why are you bothering me? This is interfering with my texting. Someone will pick up my clothes, and if they don't, so what?"

American children are being done a great disservice by adult society. For reasons only Dr. Phil understands, many parents have decided to attach their own self-images to their children. So if the kid is "amazing," that means the father and mother are amazing as well. That's what's going on.

The huge downside is that it takes a lot of work and perseverance to become amazing, and most human beings never reach that status. But children are generally not told that. They are rarely confronted with the fact that life is tough and to succeed you have be honest, industrious and disciplined. The discipline part kicks in when you hang up your clothing.

The disturbing thing about childhood these days is that some parents and grandparents excuse a lot of questionable behavior because they want their kids to approve of them. It all goes back to amazing again. If your extra-special kid doesn't like you at the moment, maybe you aren't top notch.

Americans who have parents raised during the Great Depression or World War II understand how drastically things have changed on the home front. My father did not care a whit whether I liked him and it would have been unthinkable for him to pick up my stuff. There were rules in the house and they were enforced.

So today as an adult, I still pick up my stuff and recycle and keep a neat house. That is routine and not at all amazing.

But I'm not sure that tradition will survive the next generation.

  • D Parri

    Bill, I was at a loss over how to convey what I saw when I visited a neighbor’s home some time back. (I haven’t been back) Now that you have raised the issue, I believe the term “amazing” is apropos.

    “To cause great wonder or astonishment.” I was amazed at the condition of their home inside–I had already been amazed at the external condition of their property.

    I was astonished to see dirty laundry laying around on every floor in every room. I wondered why someone would not at least collect the individual pieces into a pile or two, or three…. I was astonished that this young, unmarried couple with a baby would not have had some concern for themselves or their child in leaving dirty dishes and glasses as a complimentary addition to the soiled laundry. I could only wonder what their perspective is in maintaining an apparently filthy household.

    You see, this young couple was obviously a product of two of those “amazing” children you spoke of in your article, but the only difference is that they have now reached young adulthood. It is now their destiny to be supported by government entitlement programs while they ‘play house’ without taking on any of the associated responsibilities–not even housekeeping.

  • teachergranny

    Mr. O is spot on! As a middle school teacher for over 25 years, I can tell you that
    today’s kids have no shortage of self-esteem. The touchy-feely programs that some schools promote in the early grades send the message that self-esteem has nothing to do with achievement. Consequently, we see many kids in the 7th and 8th grade who “amazing”, but clueless about reading, writing and arithmetic.
    They also expect their teachers to wait on them and clean up their grade “messes.” The kids who work hard and are self-disciplined are becoming fewer and fewer.

  • Kuskokwom

    Bill O’Reilly is becoming the Fox News answer to Andy Rooney.

  • therealguyfaux

    Trust me, Bill, Mr. O’Reilly was amazed by some of the stuff you probably did, only not in the positive cutesy way those parents appear to be using the term. I’m sure that it must have amazed him how silly and/or stubborn a child can be on occasion– I’m sure than in your early life there were new instances of this all the time– “You’ll never believe what your little son Billy’s doing right now, dear…” was probably not an unfamiliar refrain to him– either heard, OR spoken, by him.