"Spoiled" is an Attitude
V'etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 )
Having a lot doesn't have to make us spoiled. In this week's portion (Deut. 6:10-12) Moses warns the people not to let all the wealth and good things they are about to get spoil them and make them forget about how God wants them to act. We, too, can fully enjoy the good things in our lives without getting spoiled, by keeping the right attitude.
In our story, we meet a couple of kids who look the same and have the same ... but are very different.
"Thanks so much for coming, Wendy," the elegantly dressed woman said as she snapped closed her purse. "I'll be home by ten-thirty and if you need to reach me, my cell phone number's on the refrigerator door. See you, Ricky. See you, Mickey!" She blew a kiss to her young twin sons. "And remember to behave and do as the babysitter says," she added and was out the door.
"Well, it looks like it's you and me," Wendy said brightly to the identical twins dressed in identical, obviously pricey designer outfits embroidered with their names. "So what would you guys like to do?"
"We're hungry," the kid labeled 'Ricky' said flatly, as the other, labeled 'Mickey' nodded.
"Hmm, well your mom said you had dinner already but you could have some cereal and milk as a snack. Let's see..." She opened up the kitchen pantry and thought she'd stumbled into a supermarket, as just about every type of cereal available on the planet stuffed the bulging shelves.
"We want Super Cookie Critter Crunch!" Ricky said.
"Yeah!" Mickey echoed.
Wendy duly took down the colorful box, poured one bowl with cereal and added milk.
"Wow, thank you!" Mickey said and sat down to eat. But as Wendy was about to pour Ricky his bowl, the kid folded his arms and, face turning red, he went into a sort of stomp dance.
"No! Not those!" Ricky sputtered.
"Why not?" Wendy asked. "Isn't this what you asked for?"
"No! That's old! I want a new, fresh box!"
"But this box is nearly half full, why should we open another one?" she asked.
Wendy, remembering that their mom had said they could have whatever cereal they wanted, reluctantly complied. She opened the new box and was about to pour the milk when Ricky flew back into his dance a second time.
"Don't tell me you want me to open a new carton of milk, too?" Wendy asked, exasperated.
"Nope," Rickey said, to her relief. "I want it with a new carton of chocolate milk!"
After snack time was over, Mickey having washed his bowl and saying 'thank you' and Ricky having left his a mess for Wendy to wipe up on the kitchen table, the kids, with their babysitter close behind went upstairs to the large playroom packed with enough of the latest toys and games to make a toy store jealous.
After carefully opening and putting away one or two of the expensive toys, Mickey decided on one and started playing quietly. Meanwhile his twin brother, Ricky, left a tornado-trail of game pieces, flung box covers and wrinkled instruction booklets all over the plush carpet in his fury to find just the right plaything.
"Okay, bedtime," the exhausted Wendy said, noticing the hour had finally arrived at which the boys' mother had asked her to put them to bed.
The boys went to change and came out in fancy identical pajamas - this time without monograms.
Wendy walked them down the hall. When they got to their big bedroom, one kid smiled a sweet 'goodnight' and tucked himself into one of the cozy, canopied beds.
"Now your turn," Wendy said, waiting for the other to do the same. But the kid shook his head.
"Nope! I want a fresh pillowcase. And..." he smirked, "after that I refuse to go to bed until you can guess which of us is who."
Wendy slipped the pillowcase over the pillow.
"There, goodnight - Ricky!"
"Hey, how'd you guess so easy?" the boy stammered, climbing into bed.
Wendy just smiled.
Q. How did Ricky act with the nice things they had in their house?
A. He acted spoiled and seemed to feel like everything was coming to him.
Q. How did his brother, Mickey, act with those same things?
A. He appreciated what he had and wasn't spoiled.
Q. What life-lesson do you think someone could learn from this story?
A. While the two brothers had the same nice things in their lives, their attitudes toward them were entirely different. Whereas Ricky had grown spoiled and obnoxious, his brother Mickey remained courteous, humble and grateful. We have that same choice of how to react to the good in our lives.
Q. What does it mean to be 'spoiled'?
A. It means having a conceited, demanding attitude and lack of appreciation - in short, it's definitely not the way we want to be.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Do you think a 'privileged' person who has a lot can avoid becoming spoiled? If so, how?
A. One way is to learn to see all we have as a gift, both from those people who have given it to us and, ultimately, from God. This will naturally incline us toward appreciation and humility.
Q. Should we prefer that our parents never tell us 'no'?
A. While it might sound like fun, it's actually the key to an unhappy life. If our parents never said 'no,' not only would we grow intolerably spoiled, but we'd never develop tool how to cope positively in a world that sooner or later says 'no' to everyone. Next time Mom or Dad says 'no' - say (or at least think) 'thanks!'