There is hope
“Isn't it amazing that my children cannot find the large, open dishwasher rack for their dirty dishes – yet somehow manage to find their small mouths with their forks while eating?” I was nearly despondent when I saw this friend’s post on Facebook.
I wasn’t despondent because he was feeling frustrated. The feeling arose because I knew if he cannot get his children to find the “large, open dishwasher rack,” there is little hope that I will be able to have better luck with my own. His children are the kind of kids that your parents used to say, “Why can’t you be more like…” They are the epitome of responsible youth, the ones that you point to and say, “I have hope for the future.”
When we put a computer in the living room, we prohibited the consumption of food or beverages while sitting at the computer. Flying milk has an adverse effect on microchips.
“Can you grab the power cable?” asked my wife when we walked into the living room and saw the empty plate and glass sitting by the keyboard.
“Should I grab the dishes too?” I inquired.
“No,” she said. “Maybe he’ll figure it out on his own.”
This was depressing on two levels. First, the boy had ignored the rule. Second the boy left the evidence.
“Where’s the power cable?” he asked when he sat down to use the computer.
“Can you guess why it’s gone?”
He looked at the incriminating evidence. “Oh.” He took the dishes to the kitchen, then returned. “Can I have it now?”
“No.” I tried to sound sympathetic. “You lost computer privileges until tomorrow. I’m disappointed that you broke the rule.”
“Sorry,” he said, then let out a long sigh and wandered away.
I was fairly certain he had learned his lesson. Actually I hoped he had learned two lessons. Don’t disobey the rules, and if you do disobey the rules, you will be caught. The boy is not very good at deceit, a trait for which I am thankful.
The next day, I returned the power cable, and all seemed right with the world. That evening my wife again said, “Can you grab the power cable?” A half-eaten cup of noodles sat next to the keyboard.
A few minutes later I heard, “Hey, where’s the ... Oh, I did it again.”
I can offer some measure of comfort to the father of some of the most responsible youth I know. I was the same way when I was a child. My mom said if I ever got lost, they could easily track me by following the trail of socks I left behind. At some point when I was in college, I started cleaning up after myself. It was like a switch was thrown somewhere in my brain, and I just started doing it.
So to my friend, my wife, and all other parents, there is hope. You may not see it until they’ve gone to college, but there is hope.
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.