I rarely get to watch the news because if my TV veers away from Nick Jr. or the Disney Channel, someone usually starts crying. Sadly, Dora and her simian friend are not reliable sources for information. By the time hubby gets home and tunes into something vaguely newsy, I’m not exactly on the edge of my seat taking notes. Despite the North Korean-style news blackout in which I exist, even I’ve heard about the situation with Greece and the European Union (EU).
According to my scant understanding of current events, the EU has apparently already bailed out Greece once. Like a tween at the mall, Greece now needs more money. If Greece defaults, there is a very real possibility it could flatten the entire European economy and maybe even bowl a strike across the globe. But when the EU put a bunch of very tight spending requirements on the second bailout, Greece balked. Several EU members were irritated by this and stated that Greece should get kicked out of the EU altogether for being annoying.*
*Not their actual words.
And it was then that I realized that bailing out Greece was exactly like dealing with kids.
I know this because I used to be one and I currently have three. While my children are mostly good, they have moments of unparalleled petulance and insufferable behavior. Also? Greece’s response to the EU’s demands to bring their spending under control brought to mind the things I would say to my mother when I was in high school or even college, begging her for more money. Which brings us to…
Reason #1: Wait. Whose money are we talking about? Oh right. MINE.
When I was a student, I would often call home sheepishly bleating about how I was broke and hungry and could they please, please help me. After receiving a richly deserved telling off, I would respond with something horrific and bratty like: “HOW DARE YOU TELL ME I’M ONLY ALLOWED TO EAT AT THE DINING HALL?! I’m 18 years old. If I want to bounce checks to Domino’s for drunkenly ordered pizzas — there is nothing you can do to stop me.”
If the EU wants to tell Greece to stick to the dining plan and stop throwing their money away on unfiltered cigarettes and Taco Bell – guess what? Greece should be like: “Thank you very much for saving my ass” and then apologize for having to ask for money again.
Reason #2: Sometimes you have to be firm. Gentle, but firm.
I’m sure the EU loves Greece very, very much and understands that they’re just having a really rough time right now. I think all this threatening to kick them out is actually just a tough love strategy. Haven’t we all almost lost our schmidt and joked about selling our kids to gypsies? I know I have.
But I don’t think the EU will turn its back on Greece. How could you? Greece is awesome. It just needs some nurturing and some firm guidance and be around some good influences (I’m looking at you, Germany) and maybe to stop paying attention to certain people who may not be any better off (that’s right, Italy. Get it together).
Reason #3: Stop acting like you don’t need parents.
Right now Greece is exactly like my house. A bunch of people running around, screaming, “I DO IT MYSELF!!” while things careen violently out of control. When I try instilling some order in the midst of the chaos, I find that I’m very unpopular. But guess who is always going to survive a no-confidence vote? Mommy. Because someone has to lay down the law. Otherwise, Greece – you know what happens? Lord of the Flies, except with government pensions.
Reason #4: There are rules and consequences for a reason, hotshots.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Or at least it’s really tedious. When the doctor told me that if I wanted to lose weight I would have to eat less and exercise more, I was like: “Thanks a lot. Now that’s a surprise. Please accept my huge co-pay and also my scorn.” When I tell my kids that they need to put their stuff away, or it will get lost, they roll their eyes at me in a similar fashion because they’ve heard it a hundred times.
But we all know it’s the truth. And you should ignore the truth at your own peril. For me, that means bigger pants and lost library books. For Greece, it’s an ever so slightly larger problem. Which leads us to…
Reason #5: There are two ways you can learn things.
As we say at my house (and apparently also within the Louisiana penal system) – you can learn it the easy way or the hard way. I am really, really hoping Greece learns this the easy way. Because the consequences for them digging in their heels and not doing absolutely everything possible to retrieve this situation is actually really frightening. It’s the kind of fear parents know all too well. It’s worthy of capitalization. When it comes to the state of global economy, I have The Fear. I hope that somewhere, the really smart grown-ups in charge of fixing this situation start using their mean mommy voices and threatening to give Greece something to cry about before it all gets a lot worse.
And all of this I find a bit ironic. Because, after all, Greece is acting awfully immature and petulant for the world’s oldest democracy. But then again, I guess that’s what you get for giving everyone a vote. Just try that in the drive-thru.
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