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Somewhere along the road to old age, I found myself too involved and in a hurry to get nowhere.
I’ve missed out on things by not taking the time to stop and smell the roses.
Does any of this sound familiar?
You know, I think it’s partially due to our upbringing. Every daddy has the feeling he had a hard life growing up. That’s part of being a father.
Because of that, we silently vow to make up for it by making things easier for our children.
We’re gonna give them the good stuff we never had. However, in looking back, that sorta robbed them of a part of childhood.
Why? Giving them the good stuff automatically snuffs a child’s initiative. It smothers their imagination of what could be with a little hard work.
Take my first scooter; it wasn’t fancy by any stretch.
To an outsider, it was nothing more than a couple reclaimed 2-by-4s, nailed at a right angle with a pair of old roller skates nailed to the bottom.
It wasn’t shiny and storebought, but I sure thought it was. There is no keeping up with the Joneses, either. My scooter worked and looked pretty much like every scooter on Chesterfield Avennue.
A couple of the fellas managed to sport a paint job thanks to an old bucket of leftover house paint they stumbled across in a plunder house.
Now, my memory is pretty good, but for the life of me, I don’t exactly recall any of my children asking for a scooter.
I just up and brought one home from the Western Auto store on Main Street one day. It was made of heavy metal and painted two-tone blue.
Talk about a Cadillac, the wheels were covered with a hard rubber tread. There was even a fold down seat.
At first, my children seemed delighted, but their interest in scootering soon waned. I was rather disappointed, but I didn’t learn anything from their reaction. My mistake in judgement was buying it in the first place. I should’ve taught them how to make their own.
The mistakes didn’t end with the discarded scooter.
Remembering the difficulties I had before getting my first second-hand bicycle, I made sure my children got a top-of-the-line, pedal-powered two-wheeler with all the bells and whistles.
As an added measure, I had training wheels attached to ensure their safety. No scraped-up knees for my kids. They pedaled on our paved driveway, but never ventured across the wide level pasture to explore their nearby surroundings. I guess that was a good thing; at least, I wouldn’t be worried about them.
Some years later, my son was hankering for a tree house.
I offered to get the lumber from Porter-Belk, but a change was taking place. He said he had what he needed. Shortly after that, he caught my interest when I noticed him hauling large sheets of cardboard toward the barn.
Bless Pete, that boy was building his very own hideout and using the ultimate in materials. Somehow, he was following in a tradition created by bunch of boys from the previous generation by making do with what’s available. His DYI attitude made me swell with pride.
Now, my grandson had some of that same old get-up-and-go and used his imagination on various projects which interest him.
However, I didn’t have the time to teach him the fine art of slingshot making. Finding the right twig, an shoe tongue and inner tube to make a slingshot can be difficult without proper guidance.
He didn’t catch his first pet rabbit in a homemade rabbit box, either, which was my fault.
It was bought from Charlie Blankenship at the Feed and Farm as an Easter gift. For some reason I was too busy to show him how to draw a pig’s eye in the red clay or shoot marbles with his buddies, which is a shame. I learned from the best; his great-grandma was one of the best marble shooters around.
We decided to give him a set of Walkie-Talkies instead of giving him the joy that comes from waxing kite string and attaching it to drug-store Dixie Cups. You’d be surprised what you can pick up on that homemade landline.
The one thing we can’t get back is time, which I sometimes regret.
We teach our children how to do and how to have when we would’ve been better off teaching how to make do and using their imagination.
Sadly, the skills I used to fly over the Catawba River in a plane made from an outside staircase has largely fallen into disuse.
We wonder why our children are absorbed with video games, cell phones and computers. The creature comforts don’t make them put them forth any extra effort.
As mentors, we have failed to pass our knowledge on to another generation.
Of course, some of that knowledge is best left to ourselves, such as smoking rabbit tobacco wrapped in newspaper or carving our initials on a grammar school desk.
Maybe we shouldn’t tell everything we did, but it’s not too late to tell them how much the good stuff that matters.