Delta Winds cover 2001Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College



Carmela Brown

The American Heritage Dictionary defines materialism as "a great or excessive regard for worldly concerns." These "concerns" come in more forms today than ever before. Our society has become extremely materialistic. I find this to be especially true of parents of many of the students at the local high school where I am employed as an Attendance Secretary. I deal with truancy issues on a daily basis. Our town has become a bedroom community to the Bay Area. I am always amazed at the number of parents who have chosen to move to our area and commute many miles to work in order to have more expensive cars, clothes, homes with pools and other materialistic items. Their children are left on their own to care for themselves.

Unfortunately, the children are suffering emotionally. So many parents must leave for work before the crack of dawn and do not return until late in the evening. They have no idea what their children are doing while they are gone these long hours. The children have a nice house to go home to . . . unfortunately it is empty. They drive sporty cars and wear name-brand clothes. What they lack, though, is parents who are close enough to know what their sons and daughters do when they go home. There have been incidents where a student hasn't been in school for days and the parent does not have a clue. There have also been times when the student has become ill and the parent cannot get home for hours to care for his child. I can't count the number of times I have heard one of my children's friends tell me how they wished their mom worked at the school so they could have them close.

When I was growing up, there was always plenty of food on the table, a lovely roof over our heads, decent cars to drive and good clothes to wear. There was always a parent close at hand when I needed a shoulder to cry on or a heart to be mended. I rarely see this in our community today. I don't remember name brands of clothing being important, but I do remember the girls in high school who came every Monday morning with a new outfit on. The first thing they were always asked was "Where did you get that?" Many of their moms worked, and they shopped on Saturday. My mom made many of my clothes in those days. She was an excellent seamstress, and I wasn't embarrassed that the outfit wasn't purchased from a pricey store. Most of the girls I knew wore homemade clothing. Nobody seemed to notice or care. I still remember some of the gorgeous dresses that Mom would spend hours and hours sewing. To this day, I ask her to make clothes for me sometimes and these clothes are very special to me.

It is sad that our society has become so very materialistic. Every day at high school I see it in the eyes of the children. Many of them who appear to have it all -- fancy car, clothes, jewelry and cell phones -- are missing out on the involvement of a parent who is close at hand. Many of the parents are commuting long hours to work at jobs that pay higher salaries than if they worked locally. These parents are too tired to be involved in their child's life. They are missing out on valuable and memorable times in the lives of their children. The children are missing out too on much-needed emotional support.

I feel blessed that I chose to work locally so that I could be involved in my children's lives. I learned a long time ago that materialistic things are not the most important things in life. I had wonderful parents who taught me about love, nurturing and caring. Now, as I watch my four children mature, I see those same attributes. We may not have the newest or largest house or wear the most expensive clothes, but there is a lot of love in this home of ours. For that I am grateful!