Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Want to Learn the Hard Way

As parents, Hud and I have tried, really hard, to save our kids from life’s tougher lessons. We drilled into them the importance of looking both ways before they cross the street – even on a one-way street. We insisted they wash their hands before dinner and take baths every night. All the things that most parents do for their children – to keep them safe and secure. Now Pepper and the rest of the four-legged gang, they listen pretty well. They know dog biscuits are on the line. The rest? Not so much.

And as they’ve gotten older and gone out on their own, we’ve tried to expand the lessons to include ones that will save them time, money and/or heartache in the long run. For instance, when #2 son, Jet, moved into his own apartment last year, we told him that he needed to set aside money to pay his rent at the beginning of the month, rather than waiting until the end of the month to start scrambling around to find funds. We also warned him that if he came up short and needed to borrow money from us, we would give him the money, but he would have to move back home that day. Can you guess how many months it took before he was calling, asking for $20 to cover his rent? Less than six would be the right answer. When the call came, I reminded him of our earlier conversation and the fact that it was moving day if I gave him the money. Tough love? Maybe – it would have been very easy to give him the $20 and a stern lecture, but the next month it would have been $50 and then the next month . . . I know this kid! He told me he was going to call his older brother for a loan and I reminded him of the original lesson Hud and I had tried to teach him – setting aside your rent money at the beginning of the month. His response? “That’s a great idea!” as though he had never heard such a thing before.

Jet at work - hey, it's a tough job!

Hud talks to #1 son, Sparky, about his car every time we see him. “Have you checked your oil?” “Did you get that headlight replaced?” “When was the last time you had those tires looked at?” Hud knew that Sparky’s car would never pass inspection and continually warned him about it. Imagine our shock when Sparky stormed in the house last weekend, all in a tizzy because his car (let’s all act surprised here) had NOT PASSED INSPECTION and now he wasn’t going to be able to get his license plate sticker renewed before it expired. Hud just looked at Sparky and shook his head.

Sparky in his leisure time

Today, insult is added to injury, because Sparky’s car stereo was stolen last night. Oh, he’s as mad as a hornet – but when I asked him how this could have happened at his house . . . it turns out he wasn’t at his house. He was at a friend’s house. Let’s just say this friend doesn’t live in the nicest of neighborhoods. And while we were visiting said friend, ol’ Sparky didn’t bother to lock his car. Well, there you go. A lesson learned. A very expensive lesson learned.

Sparky, Hud and Jet - my three guys

Hud and I wonder if our brilliant children are ever going to start listening to us. We really do have some good advice to give. Lessons we learned at great cost to ourselves because we didn’t listen to our parents. But that’s a story for another day.

1 comment:

  1. I'm of the opinion that children (no matter how old) can only learn the hard way. That's how you learned, and that's how they will learn. As parents, it's our nature to give advice out of love and concern, in order to protect them from predictable stumbles. Our children, just like our friends and our family, may listen, but they rarely heed. I think it's just part of the growing process...


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