Purple Pipe

While walking my dog in our lovely, pristine neighborhood on this warm and sunny winter day, I came across a purple crack pipe. Don’t ask me how I knew what it was; I just knew, okay? On previous walks I have found soda cans used for this same foul habit, but now the neighborhood druggies are getting all ceramic on me.

One would perhaps think that I live in the inner city. People who are not terribly familiar with southern California might sigh and think, “Well it is Los Angeles.” However, far from the inner city, our little enclave is a bastion of snobbery known as “The Land of Gracious Living.” In my mind, it bears the moniker “The Land of Spoiled Children.” In this place, everyone has everything. Spoiled children become bored children and finally addicted children. This certainly is not true of all my neighbors or the entire city, but my own teenagers know enough of these people to convince me that it is a problem of prevalence in our overindulged area.

I am certain my own parents would have said that my children are spoiled. We do, indeed, spend more on their sports and musical activities than our meager salaries can handle, but I rationalize our expenditures by telling myself that we are investing in their futures. One could also say that my children are stressed and overscheduled, but at least they aren’t bored!

Way back when my son was an eighth grader, we drove by the local shopping center on an afternoon when there was early release from school. He was dressed all in black, perfectly tied tie, heading to an orchestra concert. He began to lament the fact that other kids his age were hanging out at the shopping center while he had to perform. Then he noticed that all those kids were doing was riding through the parking lot in shopping carts and impeding traffic. “Never mind,” he said.

My daughter has similar stories to tell about the differences in what constitutes fun among her peers. She participates with other girls, many older than herself, in the sport of synchronized skating. In recent months, several of her teammates have either chosen not to attend particular colleges or have transferred to other schools due to the party atmosphere they encountered. They were used to having fun skating with their teammates, and the idea of staying out most of the night consuming alcohol and being late for practice the next morning was a completely foreign and ludicrous concept to them. I’m glad she skates with these girls.

I’m also glad she enjoys learning. She was trying to decide if she should take an Advanced Placement class her sophomore year of high school. She is not a braniac and is not trying to kill herself studying; neither does she wish to be a part of a class in which the students have no desire to learn, no respect for their teachers, and no qualms about not doing the work assigned. When she was talking to the family about whether or not the class was a good idea, her foster-sister said, “Don’t do it; you won’t have a life.” She answered, “I think we have a difference of opinion on what it means to ‘have a life’.” Bravo.

So, I’m throwing away the purple crack pipe and saying a little prayer for the parents of that person, whatever his or her age. I hope the person gets a life very soon.

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