It was an average weekday repast at our house.
As we started dinner, Mom was decked out in
a lovely frock. Dad was obviously tired but had
freshened up post a long day at the office. Then
my father made an announcement. "Guess what?
Tomorrow you start your paper route?" And my
response? "What paper route?!" An eleven year
old boy of comfortable circumstances, I felt no
need to work. However my parents had a much
different idea, and goal. Which was starting to
teach me about the realities of the world beyond
of our insulated environment. And like it or not,
it started NOW. I had no choice but to just do it.
In hindsight I can't thank my parents enough for
that lesson and many more. As children of the
depression they knew what they felt was best
for me. Requiring that I pay as I go. Thus since
that evening of revelation I've learned the value
of a hard earned buck. And most important, that
little in life comes easy. A lesson that honestly
I've struggled with for most of my life. In part
because success often came too easily. Blessed
with talent, drive, and more than my share of
luck I found my way. All because my parents
started me on a glide path which while rocky
at times, ultimately led me to a better place.
What a bummer
Almost every child seems ungrateful at times.
That's because they have no context against
which to measure their parent's largesse. No
outside context against which to balance their
circumstances. Which is why my Mother and
Dad took me monthly to the Bowery Mission.
A precursor to modern day homeless shelters
it was a depressing place where everybody we
met smelled really bad. Or sported a hacking
cough. Yet they dutifully sat through a sermon
in order to get a hot meal and a warm bed. All
of which caused this boy to ask himself "how
do I make sure this NEVER happens to me?!"
So where did we go wrong? Whenever we start
to complain about irresponsible young folks we
should look in the mirror. If anybody is at fault
for their being out of touch its people like us.
Somehow we forgot to leverage the lessons our
parents taught us. And somehow lost our way.
Leading the next generation down a golden path
with little to no connection to reality. Now we
wonder why many of them return home post a
few years in the workforce. Not knowing why
the world at large isn't as wonderful as it was on
their home turf. Disappointed, confused, and
disenfranchised. Proof we didn't do OUR jobs.
Fortunately most of us learn from our mistakes.
Growth is if nothing else an incremental process.
Step by step, experience by experience, day by
day each of us grows older and wiser. My grand
daughter "M" calls me often via her facebook
"video chat." Miles apart, we're still able to chat
as she fixes her hair, makes her own breakfast,
or complains about having to do yard work. In
Chicago, my four year old grandson loves little
more than helping out. So even at his young age
he knows how to chop, dice, and prepare dinner.
Both are in their own way starting life on the
right path to be healthy, happy, and successful.
Old enough to know better
In hindsight, my parents were incredibly smart.
Investing the time and effort to put me to work.
Along with every parent who requires that their
offspring make their own bed. To clean up after
themselves. Or work in a menial job in order to
put their future endeavors in context. To all of
those parents who do the opposite. Indulging
their child's every whim. "Protecting" their kids
from all of those nasty things they had to do in
their youth. Your lack of guidance is shameful.
Rather than helping your child you are hurting
them. Isn't time you grew up and started to act
like a parent should? Invest in their future now!