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When is Enough, Enough?

January 22, 2014

Walking around my grandparents’ complex in sunny Boca Raton, Florida last week, I struck up a conversation with Michael, a recently retired gentleman from Boston, who spoke about his twin daughters.

trees“They’re in their late twenties,” he said. “One married last fall which cost me $40,000.” He described the venue, the band, even the food. I said it sounded very nice.  “It was,” he said. “But do you think my daughter appreciated it?” He shook his head.

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“Then a few weeks after the wedding she called to say she needed $600 to fix her car.”

“Did you remind her she now had a husband?”

“Yes!” he said, laughing. “That’s exactly what I said.”

“And?”

“‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘We don’t want to spend our money on that.’” Michael shook his head, still stunned by her response.

“She sounds kind of spoiled,” I told him.

He nodded. “I bought my other daughter a huge apartment and then she called needing money for grad school. Neither of them calls unless they need something. I wish I knew what to do.”

I thought for a moment, gazing over at a Great Blue Heron standing alone and still at the water’s edge. I didn’t major in child psychology, but I have lived in 90 square feet and know what it means to appreciate the little things, especially when it comes to family.

“Maybe you should tell them the bank is closed.”

Michael looked shocked, as though he could never do that, then nodded, realizing he’d known that all along.

Back inside my grandparents’ condo, I sat with my grandfather in the den. “How was your walk, felice n papasveetheart?” he asked, his eyes glued to the stock ticker scrolling along the bottom of the TV screen. I told him about Michael and his daughters.

He rested his hand on my knee. “Ven I came to dis country I vorked hard so my kids could have. But if you give too much den kids don’t appreciate.”

I thought of all the times my grandfather handed me a twenty-dollar bill and said, “Get yourself something nice.”

“Papa, thanks for all you’ve given me,” I said. “And I’m not talking about money.”

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11 Comments
  1. Edes Gilbert permalink

    OMG. How true!!!

    Are you snowed in?

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Deborah Golden permalink

    You are seriously brilliant! I think I love your Grandpa. You know how lucky you are. But much of our luck we bring to ourselves. Anyone who knows you knows what you bring to the table – a whole lot of you and that’s huge. XOXO

  3. marilyn permalink

    LOVE THE PICTURE!!! HOW TRUE YOU & YOUR PAPA’S WORDS ARE. KIDS TODAY DO NOT APPRECIATED WHAT THEY HAVE & ALWAYS WANT MORE. MINE KNOW THAT THEY HAVE TO WORK FOR WHAT THEY WANT.

  4. Great advice all around…and a very dear photo of you and your grandfather!

  5. Auntie M. permalink

    great blog Felice, Like Nancy Regan said, “Just say no.”

  6. I’m continually amazed by the entitled attitude that parents allow to develop in their children. As a teacher I’ve seen this a lot and it never fails to astonish me.

    My assumption growing up was that I’d always have to find a way for the expensive things. It started when I had to save half the cost of the contact lenses I wanted (the other half was my 16th birthday present) and continued to the costs of college which were also a split between loans in my name and help from parents. My parents were always there to help financially when I really desperately needed it, but what I most remember of them both was the encouragement and moral support they gave me for surviving obstacles in my path and the pride they expressed for my growing into someone who went into a service profession.

    The other end of the issue are parents who continue to enable their children to remain mentally 14 forever, taking no responsibility for their actions or for figuring out a way to live as an adult. The hardest thing in the world is saying no to a child. I have acquaintences whose twenty something kids are living at home and stealing to support drug habits and moving from one part time job to nothing and back with regularity. My proudest accomplishment is that my 23 yr old daughter knows I love her, but that I’m not bailing her out financially or any other way when she continues to mess up. After years of putting us through %^&* she’s finally starting to make better decisions. Saying, no, you can’t move back was the hardest thing I ever did. This year, she even wrote a composition for a class saying I was her hero. Tough love is difficult but if you truly love, it can work.

    PS. Love reading your posts, Felice. Hope the snow isn’t too bad in NYC.

  7. shelly cohen permalink

    Another wonderful blog and interchange between you and Papa. The first time I brought you to Florida to meet your Nana and Papa- you were only 2 months old. Papa grabbed you out of my arms and it has been a mutual love affair ever since. Love the picture and you. mom

  8. Art Nager permalink

    Nice!

  9. Another beautiful post, Felice. Love the picture and the story.

  10. Kalliopi permalink

    It goes thru my mind if my kids will apreciate what we offer them. You offer them what they may need, but is it too much?

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