Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared
Being prepared is very important to me. I have an earthquake kit in my car, I schedule dental check-ups before I even receive a reminder, and if I say I'm bringing the potato salad for 4th of July, you can count on it even if I just broke my right arm. All this madness -- I mean sense of responsibility -- goes back to a Defining Moment in middle school. How I didn't notice I was the only 7th grader not in the school gym that day is beyond me, but what I do remember is one of my friends racing down the hall toward me, shouting, "Jaaaanet, you’re ON!" While I didn't have a clue what she was talking about, I quickly learned there was a 7th grade school assembly and all the candidates for the Student Body were giving their prepared speeches. Uh oh. I was running for Class Treasurer, and I was now walking up to a podium to tell my fellow classmates why I was THE girl for the job? "What exactly does the Class Treasurer do?" I wondered as I approached the podium. (Truth be told, I only ran for treasurer because I thought making posters that said "Voting for Janet Make$ Cent$" would be oh so clever.) While I doubt that any of my classmates even remember this debacle, it changed my life -- in a good way. NEVER did I want to feel so unprepared again, and so I saw to it that I wasn't. Ever.
Why I bring all this up is because I got a call from a friend last night asking me if I had a magic kit. Her third grade son informed her that he was auditioning for the school variety show the next day, and his talent was to perform magic. He didn't know any tricks, but he figured he'd learn some with a magic kit he'd gotten for Christmas but hadn't opened yet. It was the night before the audition, and he discovered the kit was broken and it was too late to buy another one. Talk about a recipe for a Defining Moment. Or not.
Now I know there's a world of developmental difference between a 3rd grader and a 7th grader, but at what point do we begin teaching our children the value in "owning" what's theirs. Whose audition is it if Mom drops everything to move heaven, earth, and Facebook to locate a magic kit at a time she'd normally be tucking her son into bed?
My heart goes out to her. As parents, we're so hard-wired to help our children, whatever the cost, but that's the kicker -- knowing when we're helping and when we're really not (at least not in the long run). How do we know if allowing them to experience natural consequences will serve them down the road or scar them?! The answer probably varies as much as our children do, yet I still look back at the Defining Moments in my life and am grateful for each one. As a parent myself, I hope I'll have the courage to allow my daughter to experience her own such moments.
P.S. I was eventually voted Class Treasurer -- in 8th Grade.