David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | [email protected]

In this corner… in the blue trunks, just back from a six-month stint in a third-world country digging irrigation ditches and setting up micro-loans for a women’s sewing cooperative, Ms. Attitude-of-Gratitude! This competitor drives her younger siblings to school, mows the lawn without being reminded, takes grandma food shopping every Saturday. Grateful for the opportunity to go to college, she will graciously matriculate at State U, donating excess funds from her scholarship to the under-resourced pre-school where she volunteers. A voracious reader and stellar student, Attitude-of-Gratitude has developed sincere connections with many of her teachers who admire her intellectual curiosity and genuine love of learning.

And in this corner, Ms. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now in the red shorts! The undisputed epitome of spoiled-rotten and decadent, the champion of eye-rolling, the winner of the Why-Do-We-Have-to-Learn-This? award. Her mediocre grades, modest test scores, and paucity of long-range meaningful extracurriculars notwithstanding, Ms. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! is convinced that she should be and will be admitted to a “top” college and will be satisfied with nothing “less.” “Gloat like a butterfly, whine like a b_____” is embroidered on her expensive silk robe. She does no chores! She reads no books! Her entitlement has entitlement!

There’s the bell! The young women approach the center of the ring. Attitude-of-Gratitude moves forward cautiously, hands at her sides, looking for commonalities, willing to discuss. Ms. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! pretends to have something in her eye then springs around Attitude-of-Gratitude and drives an unsharpened pencil into her back. Attitude-of-Gratitude expresses neither surprise nor disappointment. She lifts Ms. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! over her head and throws her to the ground. Ms. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! screams that it’s not fair, she wasn’t ready, the sun was in her eyes, the net was too high, and insists that the referee call her mommy.

Which child do you prefer? On whom would you bet? Would you rather live with Attitude-of-Gratitude or with Ms. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! Perhaps more to the point, which child is being created and nurtured in your home?

Do you suggest that “school is your job” and that household chores rather than being a shared responsibility will be taken care of by parents and/or staff? Or do you communicate “everybody works, everybody eats”?

How do you handle waiting at the doctor’s office? The doctor is late, there has been a complication in a lifesaving surgery elsewhere. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now!’s parent exclaims, “this is an outrage, we were here first, why don’t they plan better.” Whereas Attitude-of- Gratitude’s folks remark on how lucky they are to have access to first-class first-world health care, that a forty dollar co-pay is nothing short of a miracle, that the 20-minute procedure they’re about to undergo would have been a death sentence a hundred years ago. Besides, Attitude-of- Gratitude has brought her tattered copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban–she enjoys pointing out new details to her folks each time she reads it. Her parents have made it clear that there’s no place on the planet they’d rather be: Hanging out with their beloved daughter who is soon once again to be in perfect health.

I don’t know who wins the metaphorical one-on-one dust up between Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! and Attitude-of-Gratitude. In the short term, Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! may have some advantages what with all the cheating and mommy coming in to save her. Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! may even be admitted to a more selective college.

But I do know with whom I’d rather live.

Because if Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! wins, she won’t thank her coaches, parents or teachers. She will instead abscond with all the credit for herself. Isaac Newton acknowledged that if he had seen a little farther than his peers it was because he had stood on the shoulders of giants. This just in: nobody will be talking about Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now!’s insight into optics, gravity, or calculus three and a half centuries from now. She was born on third base and believes she invented the world.

I’m going to raise my kids so that I’m more likely to be sending Attitude-of-Gratitude rather than Buy-Me!-Get-Me!-I-Want-It-Now! off to college. I’m going to model appreciation, obligation, and gratefulness. Because when my kids do go off to college, I want to remember that every moment spent with them was borderline precious, even waiting in the doctor’s office, even if they lost an osassional fight with a malcontent or a less grateful peer.

David Altshuler 2

David Altshuler 2

Copyright © David Altshuler 1980 – 2022    |    Miami, FL • Charlotte, NC     |    (305) 978-8917    |    [email protected]