Jemma lifted another disposable plastic cup from the floor and dropped it in the large purple rubbish bag she held. ‘This is the twentieth cup I collected!’ She said.
‘I didn’t count, but I guess I collected the same amount, and the floor is still littered with more cups and….’ Sam stopped and looked at the room’s dirty floor, then added, ‘and too many other things, spoons, forks, plates, food, a slice of pizza, and so on.’
‘I wonder why they littered the floor and didn’t just put their empty cups on the tables?’ Jamma questioned.
‘And drop the rubbish in four large bins we provided. I guess the only person who used the rubbish bin was me.’ Sam sneered. ‘Why is this generation so irresponsible?’
‘Yuck, is this a gum?’
Sam got closer and examined the pink gooey object stuck to the carpet. ‘Yes, a pink bubble gum.’ And pointed to a close-by brown stain and said, ‘and this was a piece of Cassandra’s birthday chocolate cake that is pressed into carpet’s fabric.’
‘Fuck, why should someone spit her gum out on the floor?’ Jemma raged.
‘A good question. And cakes too.’
‘My god.’ Jemma sighed. ‘Who is going to clean this?’
‘I guess you and me.’ Sam replied. ‘We can add cleaning to our resume.’
Jemma looked at her tired-looking husband but said nothing to his dark humor. ‘When I was a teenager, we, girls, were not allowed to chew gums in public. It was considered rude.’ Jemma said.
‘It was the same for boys. It was disrespectful to chew gum in front of adults. But not anymore. Nowadays, teens do whatever they please. This is the generation that wants to build the world’s future.’ Sam stated. ‘The world’s future is bleak.’
‘We just invite twenty guests, but the aftermath of the party looks like hundreds were here!’ Jemma commented.
‘Hundred pigs!’ Sam corrected her.
‘Yes, pigs. You spot on.’
They continued cleaning in silence, collecting the rubbish left on their recently installed cream color carpet.
‘Ah…!’ Jemma sighed. ‘What has happened to these people? They don’t have manner anymore.’
‘Tell me about it.’ Sam said, pondering. ‘When I was a child, before going to a party, my mother used to lecture my older siblings and me and warned us to watch our behavior.’
‘Same as my mother.’ Jemma responded.
‘And if we did something which wasn’t approved by my mother, we would be in lots of trouble.’ Sam said.
‘What kind of trouble?’ Jemma asked curiously.
‘Um…. Once, after we returned home, my mother gave me a good spanking, just for having two slices of cakes on my cousin’s birthday.’
‘But the punishment doesn’t fit the crime?’ Jamma commented.
‘Of course, it didn’t fit the crime. My parents, more my mother, were dictators.’
‘I can’t picture your mom as a tough mother or a dictator. She is always good to Cassandra and me.’ Jemma said.
‘Yes, she has changed a lot. The passage of time has softened her.’ After a long pause musing, Sam added, ‘at that young age, I hated how my mom was treating us. But when I looked back now, I think my mother was right.’
‘What do you mean? Don’t you support spanking kids?’ Jemma protested.
‘No, but with her discipline and the fear we had of her wrath, she could efficiently control her four restless children, two boys and two girls. We just have a fourteen-year-old teenager, and we have already lost our authority over her.’
‘No, I am not a violent mother. And we haven’t lost our authority. If Cassandra does something wrong, I will have a rational conversation with her to make her understand than spanking her.’ Jemma explained.
‘And what is your method’s success rate?’ Sam sneered.
‘It was successful on some occasions.’ Jemma answered proudly.
‘But, my mother’s success rate was near a hundred percent.’ Sam said. ‘After two times being the recipient of spanking on the buttocks, stopped each of us from not listening to her.’
‘But spanking is cruel and harms a child’s development.’ Jemma said. ‘Child psychologists say that.’
‘So, according to these psychologists, we are all mentally ill and a danger to the community. As we all had been physically punished by our parents and teachers and should lock us in an asylum.’ Sam protested.
‘Why suddenly you become pro corporal punishment?’ Jemma asked.
‘No, I am not pro corporal punishment. I am just disappointed with what those teens did here. Look around the room. We just had a birthday party, and we had just a few teenagers here. If they had been spanked by their mothers, they wouldn’t behave like this. If we brought twenty pigs into our home, the damage was much less. Do parents and teachers teach manners and responsibility to the children anymore?’ Sam sneered. ‘Look at our new carpet. I have to call professional cleaners to remove all these stains.’
‘Yes.’ Jemma accepted her defeat. She was also disappointed by the rouge behavior of their teenage guests.
‘And thanks god it was an alcohol-free party.’ Sam said. ‘By the way, where is Cassandra now?’
‘Oh, she is in her room resting?’
‘Resting! It was her birthday party. And all the mess left by her friends. She should come and help us with the mess her unruly friends made.’
‘Leave her alone. For god’s sake, today is her birthday.’
‘Doesn’t matter. When she grew up and starts her own life, no one will give a damn about her birthday.’ Sam was angry. He paused took a deep breath. ‘Look, Jemma, I want my daughter to be a responsible person, to have manners. Cassandra needs to learn it from a young age.’
Jemma understood her husband’s argument, but she was a mother. ‘Leave her alone tonight. Today is her birthday. I will have a word with her tomorrow.’
‘Whatever?’ Sam said and stopped arguing further. The experience taught him that for whatever reason, and indifferent from the righteousness of his claim, in arguments with Jemma, he was the usual loser. So instead of provoking her, Sam retreated into his thoughts. And began thinking, ‘at old times, educators and parents used to train children for real-life, to be ready to replace them in factories and administrations. So either families or the school taught them three attributes: having discipline, being punctual, and obedient. But after we sent all our factories to the poorer countries and the market filled with cheap products. It changed the marketeers’ priority. Now they need undisciplined and negligent people who just spend without reasoning. Now we parents inadvertently train our children to be good consumers.’ Sam told himself in the safe corner of his thoughts, free of the criticism of politically correct people.