I suppose it is too much to ask teenagers to be grateful for what they have.
I was reminded of this yesterday when Tucker was complaining about the black car. He drives the black car, a 1999 Ford Taurus, to school and back most days. Earl and I, along with Grace, juggle the other car, which mostly works because I work days and Earl works evenings.
Tucker, 17, sees it as a necessity to have a car even though most places he ventures to, like school, are about a mile away. I understand that driving has to do with status rather than need.
Yesterday though, as he started to ask when we were going to replace the black car, complaining about the squeak when he turns the wheels, or the sun roof that doesn't work, and the way it vibrates on the highway (which he rarely goes on), I started to get fed up.
"You know, you just came back from France and New York, so money is a little tight," I told him.
It's true that he helped pay for the France trip, and the trip to New York was required as part of his Singers class, but the family still made financial sacrifices. And this at a time that my second job has dried up due to low enrollment at one of the colleges where I teach.
My feeling was, if he didn't want to drive the black car, then he could walk.
I was complaining to my mom later about how ungrateful Tucker was when I remembered a story about myself at his age.
My parents bought each kid a used car for their 17th birthday. They started the trend with my sister, so continued with each of us. My car was a dark green pinto.
I worked at Kings Island amusement park during my high school summers so I had to take the freeway to get there. As I pulled onto the freeway, getting up speed, the Pinto stalled. I was able to coast to the side and sat in the car wondering what I would do. This was long before the days of cell phones. I was just bracing myself for a walk down the highway and exit ramp, when a car stopped in front of me.
My older brother.
He drove me home and my dad took care of the Pinto. He had work done and swore that the car was road ready.
I refused to drive it again.
"I will not drive that Pinto," I stated indignantly. I was an insufferable teen and my parents, who had lost my sister around the same age, indulged me.
My dad found a blue Mustang II that I drove through the rest of my high school and college years.
So as I complained about Tucker, I recalled that insufferable teenager that I was. I hope I've changed a lot since then and I'm sure Tucker will too.
But he still has to drive the black car.