Monday, April 30, 2012

A Time for Everything by Jane Danner Sustar, Caregiver

 How old were you when you went to your first movie?
 How old were you when you got your first bike?
 How old were you when you got your ears pierced?
 How old were you when you got your first computer?
 How old were you when you got your first cell phone?
 How old were you when you played your first video game?
 How old were you when you played on your first organized sport team?
 How old were you when you first flew in a plane?
How old were you when you first slept over at a friend’s house?
 How old were you when you first wore high heels?
What do you remember of each one of these firsts in your life?
 My answer for almost all these questions is seventh grade or older. I remember each experience clearly. The only one I do not remember is my first airplane ride. I was two years old. My father was awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Paris for a year. My mother was either momentarily insane (all my memories afterward are of a reasonable and sane woman) or incredibly in love. For romantic reasons I prefer to believe the latter. She and my father moved me and my, then, 5 brothers and sisters to France for year. One argument for insanity was the fact that they brought one more sister back to the states with them. Really!
 I remember nothing of the trip. One whole year in France and I remember nothing…But I remember my first bike. It was a graduation present from high school. Being from a large family, it was unthinkable to even want a new bike when there were all those perfectly old trusty rusty ones in the shed. But for my 12th grade graduation my mother bought me my first 12 speed bike. I remember the first ride on that bike like it was yesterday. . I remember the first time I played PAC MAN. I was in college! Carl has played so many video games I doubt he even knows what was the first one he ever played. He is 12.
I asked about these specific questions because for me they were all rites of passage, momentous moments in my life that I marked with awe and wonder.  
 Now ask yourself those same questions but ask them about your children.
 How old were your children when…
 Just imagine it, if they have had it already, they most likely will not remember it, ever. What might they be able to mark in the future as a momentous moment in their life if they have already experienced it? It is a question that is both frightening and exciting. What would you like them to experience for the first time when they are 12? 13? 15? 20? What will mark them as older, ready?
I challenge you to think of protecting your children from getting everything too young and too fast. It is a good experience to really want something or even to work for something. The first thing I got after saving up my money from my first job was contacts! I was sixteen and for the first time ever I could see my feet in the shower. I strutted down to the dinner table glasses “less!!” and batted my beautiful blue eyes at my astonished father. He stared at me for  a moment and then said “Where the h*** did you get all those d*** freckles!?”
Ah! Memories! I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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