Vail Daily column: Thankful for the kids
The greatest gift you can give someone is this: A childhood.
This has little to do with wealth, education, social standing or anything like that. We know the lottery of birth adds an element of luck, of course. The currency here is love, though.
Helicopter moms, you can sit down. I’m not talking about best schools, filled schedules, wiping away all chance of germs or preventing any experiences that might darken your little darling’s day.
The best mom in the world is as likely to live in a New Dehli slum as an Aspen neighborhood. The best dad to serve as janitor at the elementary school as quarterback of an NFL team.
In this, our most important responsibility by far, the opportunity is equal.
Now, it gets tricky if you look for fairness in the equation, as in the best parenting leading to the best results in how the young ’uns turn out.
The science seems to show that’s not remotely true. Our influence wanes fast, which probably is for the best if you think about it. More kids turn out fine under less than ideal parenting than if good parents meant good kids.
As parents, well, the onus on us is to do our best. We do have some influence, if not so much as we’d like. It’s just all that work in childhood going up in the smoke and fire of adolescence and young adulthood, when their independent experiences and relationships shape them most. Also, pure luck.
All you memoir authors out there, wail all you wish about your parents ruining everything for you with their callousness, their meanness, their callow and illegal behaviors. Just makes the book what it should be listed under: Fiction. Not that there’s anything wrong with that from a reader’s perspective.
I go with Mother Teresa here. Boiled down, she goes through all the ways people will cheat, criticize, accuse, undermine, even destroy your good works for them. Do it anyway. Hey, there’s good reason she’s a saint.
Besides, she’s right.
You may get lucky, as we did with ours. I do tend to credit their mother, who really was and is a great parent and did her best to bring me along, too.
But I know plenty of great parents whose kids still struggled. Certainly better parents — maybe because they had to be — than I ever was. I mean, the worst I can think about mine was the boy in middle school experimenting with not doing a damned thing to see how long it would go and what the grownups would do. I’m still grateful to Jerry Santoro, the lad’s principal, for solving the problem short of me committing homicide. Yes, I was that angry.
Mostly, I applaud my kids for how they have turned out. Their mom and I had some minor influence, perhaps — no doubt bad as well as good. But their own combination of good sense, instincts, experiences, choices and all put them each in good places from what I can tell.
So I’m thankful, grateful and enjoying my turkey in their company. And yes, feeling blessed well beyond anything I deserve for this good fortune.
Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2920.
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