Monday, May 17, 2010

18 Years and What Do You Get?

When our children are born, they give us a great sense of hope for the future. The clean state of a new life and a mind just waiting to be filled with all the wonders of the world. A life ahead that has so much potential, just waiting to be tapped into.

We dream that they can grow up to be doctors, scientists and jurist of the fairest minds. We look into their eyes and see the the brilliance of the wheels grinding in their heads with sentient thought from early ages. As parents, we see their inner greatness and know that we can guide them in life and they can become great engineers, architects or cutting edge neurosurgeons.

Then they begin ripping off their diapers and playing with their own poo. Molding it like clay in their hands and smearing it artistically on every possible surface,In a way that makes the primates at the zoo say "Dude, that's nasty!" much like an artist with a blank canvass. We assume that they are telling us that they are ready for potty training when in fact, they just like to play with poo. We see their brilliance in everything that they do.

With a blink of an eye they grow to be tweens when they believe personal hygiene to be optional. We still have hopes for them but are no longer delusional about those hopes, but not on such a grand scale. At this time we realize that the time we have left to teach them how to be self sufficient adults is limited and that toothpaste usage is a life skill they have yet to master and we have much to accomplish and pertinent knowledge still left to pass on.

By the time they reach teen-hood, they finally take to heart the wisdom that you have beat into their heads about hygiene. Yet, you realize that with such focus in one area, they are still lacking any and all passion about the hygiene of their environment. Basic life skills such as not living in squalor or eating from clean utensils still have no priority in their lives. It doesn't matter what environment you have provided them or encouraged them to keep through the art of torturing via assigned chores, they have yet to grow an appreciation of the benefits that lie there in.

All through high school, we waste energy and breath attempting to reinforce the notion that the sniff test does not a clean shirt make they need to learn how to care for themselves and their personal needs in order to make it out in the world on their own. Only to come to understand that there are some lessons in life that they must learn through their own experience and that no amount of harping can change that and easily explains the carnage that is college dorm rooms and 1st apartments. We as parents have planted the seeds for that knowledge to grow.

While we await them to move the heck out of our homes so that we no longer have to live amidst their desecration, Before we know it, they shall be grown and out on their on. Off to college or trade school to become that great scientist, bartender, hairdresser or architect or poo flinging fool. We will shed a tear of sadness for the void they will leave behind, a tear of joy for all their accomplishments, see all of the potential within them and envision the bright future that lies ahead for them and thank God that they will finally be washing their own gym socks and enjoy a moment of pride, looking at their lives and knowing we have taught them well.

*This post is written for the venerable Melisa with one S, whose 18 years are coming to a close. I hope I could make you chuckle between tears.

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