Entitlement

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Nicaragua Diary, Day 6

Tonight we celebrated a neighbor’s birthday.  We took her and her children to a burrito place (Ajúa.  Picture Qdoba, mas o menos) for dinner and then next door to a coffee shop (Casa Del Cafe.  Picture Starbucks, but not quite) for dessert.  We all had a wonderful time.  

Mostly.  

It was a big deal for our friend.  We had a whole carrot cake to share, not wildly expensive for us but an extravagance she would not have otherwise.  We were delighted to treat her.  

But our kids didn’t see it as that big of a deal.  I mean, they did, of course, because we make a big deal of birthdays.  No, they simply didn’t see these places as particularly fancy or special.  That might be because once, when Kim was out of town and Dad was holding the fort, we might have eaten at the burrito place two days in a row.  Maybe.*

I watched how her children and our children responded to the outing.  I’m not criticizing our children.  We have great kids.  But they assume this level of privilege.  

When we were just in Illinois, at my mom’s house, Corin had a blast.  He loves visiting the small, rural town, because unlike me, he hasn’t grown up that way.  Going to the park by himself at age ten is a rare treat, since we live in a city of two million and prefer he’s not on the street alone without someone watching.  

But my favorite part is that he rides my old bike.  My mom, for some reason, still has my first bike.  It’s an old girls’ bike, banana seat, and it was a hand-me-down when I got it.  It rattles when he rides.  And he absolutely loves it.  

Our street is being paved, almost as we speak, but up until now it’s been too rough to bike ride, for either him or me.  So he seldom gets a chance to ride.  But when I was ten, I know for certain I would have turned my nose up at that bike (because by then I had turned my nose up at that bike).  Our son doesn’t think he’s too good for an extremely vintage, beat up old bike.  

I think entitlement is one of those diseases that’s crazy hard to fight, largely because we’re constantly doing things that encourage and nurture its growth.  We like nicer things, we enjoy giving our children nicer things, and then we all end up believing that we deserve nicer things.  No one enjoys going back to not-as-nice things.  How do we remain grateful for less when we’ve had more?  How do we even remain grateful for what we’ve come to expect?  “Give us this day our daily bread…”

I know there are those who believe “they’ve worked hard for everything they have and they deserve it.”  For me that’s a short conversation.  They didn’t earn their birth, where they were born, or their parents.  Neither did the kids in our barrio.  

We live on a street where some kids have no toys.  I mean none.  We see kids who feel fortunate to eat rice and beans today, because they don’t always get to.  To a certain degree, this helps.  Conversations about “You realize there are kids in the world who aren’t as well off as you” don’t last very long.  We’ve never talked here about the “starving children in Africa,” if you see what I mean.  

Yet we all, and I don’t just mean my children here, believe that we deserve more, even though we are surrounded by people who have less.  The arrogance of that is astounding.  I’m confessing here.  There have been many reasons for us to live in Nicaragua.  One is to have a full-time war waged against our entitlement.  

Help us, Lord.  

 

Post-Script  After five days of off-and-on mostly no water, it has now been back on for two days and seems to be here to stay.  

 

*But we don’t need to mention that to Kim.  

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