Vail Daily column: A gift that gives back, big time | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: A gift that gives back, big time

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

If gifts and children are the theme, I’ve had the best of years.

It’s different when the kids are grownups. No more Santa working overtime after midnight while the little ones who fit on a hip snooze in their fuzzies together, having worn themselves out speculating on what the Jolly One is bringing, is he really real and other matters of grave importance on the eve of the most anticipated day.

No more rude squealing and shaking the parental units awake before sunup. No more sprinting, wide-eyed, at long last and then going into this bliss only young children know.

Yes, yes, we want them to touch base with the spirit of the holiday at some point. But in the moment, this moment, material joy and bliss work their short magic to set the mood for the rest of this delightful day.

Santa still stays up. But one of the “little” ones is married now. The other already has delivered her gifts for the year — huge ones: Graduation with two degrees, a minor and bangles signifying she kicked some serious … butt; and with her mom de-staining and re-staining the outside of a long weathered log home.

The married one and wife working hard and successfully belie the millennial myth about allegedly entitled slackers.

First, I’ll note the Greatest Gen said that about we boomers when we were that age.

Second, entitled slackers exist across the age spectrum. I’m just happy I don’t know any in my family. It’s such a waste of living to even think like that..

Their mom gave them such a valuable gift with her attention on them when they were very young. Now they are repaying the effort as reasonably responsible adults who aim to contribute to society rather than take, take, take and then complain bitterly that they haven’t been given enough.

Truth is, they won a lottery at birth. Then they got lucky again with at least one parent who understood her responsibility (and joy) very well.

They still could have turned out to be little … like I no doubt was until oh, say, 25, despite similar parental attention from my own school teacher mother, a saint.

I’m just saying the odds were in their favor. These things are far from certain. The gift lies in them finding their way.

We get this in our educated, relatively well-off families. But somehow we take this greatest gift to our children for granted enough that as a society we give our more at-risk offspring the least attention just when they need it most. Then, only then, for the tiny fraction who emerge from a gantlet designed to beat them down do we invest in their college years.

Problem is, the evidence only is getting clearer and clearer that early childhood education — from as early as you can imagine, while those minds truly are sponges — sharply reduces their rates of incarceration and sharply increases their odds of earning college degrees.

Those are just two empirical markers. Something we can measure. What I’m saying is that with a smaller investment into all our children’s earliest years we can save from considerably larger costs later.

We have the means to give our society a huge gift that we pretty much know will repay itself many times over economically, legally, morally and in that much more joy in our collective lives when young ones turn out right.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.