As the world spins wildly out of control, life lessons present themselves in the most unexpected of ways. I don’t teach my children following the guidelines of a book written by Harvard graduates, nor do I teach my kids according to the advice found in magazine articles or on talk shows.
Although those sources have their merits, I raise my kids using the guidance system that rests inside of me, and the tried and true knowledge I’ve acquired along the way. I make plenty of mistakes; of that I’m certain. Mistakes are inherent to the process of trying. And because of that, I use my mistakes just about as often as I use my advice, when guiding my children.
When I was young, all of about five years old, my mother walked me to the edge of a rural country road and pointed at a frog that was lying in the middle, dead as a doornail, and as flat as cardboard. She turned to me and said, “That’s what happens when you don’t look both ways.” From that day forward, I looked both ways. I don’t think life has to be a therapy session to ensure good results. In fact, often the long drawn out analysis of life can accidentally muddy the waters, remove all joy and make things a bit sterile. If given my druthers, I tend to cut to the chase.
Maybe I approach life in such a way as to get the learning portion duly established, so we can all return to having a good time. Or it’s just part of my mental wiring, with no real motive. I really don’t know, and I can’t say I really care. Of course, this doesn’t mean my children and I do not spend hours talking about various subjects. In fact, often we talk so many circles we forget what subject started the talk in the first place. My kids can express anything to me. Often this means using every muscle in my face to refrain my eyebrows from raising once a whopper of a topic is presented to me. I won’t do anything that makes my kids feel as if something is taboo. Taboos are a waste of time. It’s not easy talking about the okay-ness of masturbation with a dead pan face – but I’m happy to report that I’ve accomplished such a feat.
However, the horrific tragedy in Colorado, wherein numerous people either lost their lives or struggled for safety at the hands of a deranged gunman in a movie theater, provided an unexpected stomach turning lesson about life and love. During a CNN news program I caught a young couple relaying the horror they experienced. The young man, through whimpering words, shared the fact that he ran for safety while leaving behind his girlfriend and two very young children. He didn’t just exit the theater, he got into his car and drove to an entirely different parking lot. He did, however, upon learning that she and the children were alive, proposed to her while in the hospital. Oddly enough, she accepted.
I researched this incident for some time; ensuring that I had my details correct. I discovered that a 19-year-old man, a complete stranger, saved the woman and her daughters. He was shot in the process, but survived as was the young mother. I had my children watch the news interviews, and then I asked my daughter, “Would you marry that man?” My daughter shook her head and said, “No way. In fact, if I were that girl, I’d marry the other guy, the one that stuck around and helped save me.”
Knowing my daughter possessed the knowledge she needed, I simply added: It isn’t important as to whether someone will remain by your side while the two of you are seated at the base of the rainbow or any other blissful low-stress location. What matters is what they do and where they go in a moment of crisis, when the heat is on, and things aren’t pretty. Do they bail, or do they stay.
I hope the young woman, once her head has cleared, takes a moment to stand on the side of the road as she moves ahead with her life. And when she does, she looks both ways when it comes to life partners.
PS. My deepest sympathy goes out to those that lost their lives while merely enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures.