Are we actually helping?
You know how people say that they can't remember yesterday, but they can recall in vivid detail something that happened forty years ago as if it actually WERE yesterday?
Well, for me those days have arrived.
I honestly cannot tell you a single thing that happened twenty-four hours ago, but I remember quite clearly sitting in Sunday school as a young boy of ten or so, and listening to the teacher talk about prayer. She patiently explained that prayer was a conversation. She said that it was perfectly acceptable to ask God questions. It was even permissible to tell the Lord our wants and desires, and that God always answered our prayers. ALWAYS.
My first thought was that this was complete nonsense. I mean, I prayed every night before bed, and I awoke every morning, and looked around in anxious anticipation.
No new bike.
No Loni Anderson.
What a ripoff.
Then the teacher threw me a curveball. She went on to say that God did indeed answer all prayers. It's just that, sometimes the answer is no.
Needless to say, I wasn't prepared for such a loophole, and I didn't realize then, how often I would consider those words of wisdom as I grew older.
Whether you are, or are not a believer, is not really the point. The teacher was saying that God, like any good parent, understood the value of "no".
She was trying to let us know that in our lifetime we would want for things, and that we would come to know and intimately understand what it was to struggle, as well as the pain and loss that it is so often accompanied by.
Lately, I think about that Sunday school class quite a lot. I think about my own children, and how proud of them I am. I also think long and hard about the mistakes I've made with them, and try to make peace with myself for things they may, or may not, even remember. Mostly though, I think about how different things are today.
Some of those differences, I'm sure, are for the better.
Some, I'm afraid, are not.
No one wants their child to suffer. What parent would? But there doesn't seem to be a willingness, or even an understanding of what help is, and what it is not.
At what point does assistance stop, and enablement begin?
Yes, I'm sure that this makes me a tired, crotchety old man. But even tired, crotchety old men can stumble upon the truth.
The struggle is not only inevitable, it's necessary.
It's when we grow, learn and change. It's where we develop our coping skills, and it's how we discover who we are.
The pain is simply part of the process. And it's a beautiful thing.
By now, I'm sure we all know the story of dear old Mrs. Loughlin, and her fashion designer husband, Mosso... Mosse...
You know who I mean: That guy whose clothes are sold at Target stores. Or, at least they were.
Allegedly, they paid $500,000 to USC under false pretenses to make certain that their nineteen year old daughter could attend school there.
As a member of the Crew team, no less.
And no, she was not an actual team member, and I seriously doubt she has ever rowed.
Did I fail to mention that the nineteen year old daughter in question has an estimated net worth of $500,000, and had AT LEAST ten product endorsements, most of them tied to the beauty industry (I wonder where, and how she made those contacts), as well as over one million followers on Youtube and Instagram each?
Oh, relax. I have no desire to drag Aunt Becky through the mud any further.
"Michelle, promise me you'll write me in prison."
"You got it, dude!"
Okay, THAT was the last one.
But maybe the rest of us are not so different. Aside from the staggering amount of money, I have often witnessed parents acting in much the same way. I'm sure we've all had our moments, and always in the name of love.
How many times do you see the youth football coach, whose son just happens to play quarterback every single play, of every single game, every single year?
It is amazing how that child is always the most athletically gifted.
Or the money spent on designer clothing or ridiculously expensive toys for young children?
The girl whose mother is the Girl Scout leader, and once again they have sold the most cookies? Three boxes of "Thin Mints", please. Kaching!!!
Or the coolest car? The best gaming system?, The biggest party?
Pay the bail money to keep the kid out of jail. It will be our little secret, okay?
There are countless examples.
You don't have to be affluent, or an athlete, or anything else in particular.
But separate any individual from the natural consequences of his or her actions, or insulate them from the world as most of us know it, and you are asking for trouble.
There is no justification for Lori Loughlin, or anyone involved in the USC scandal, but it's interesting to wonder how many people would do the same if they had the resources.
The slope can get mighty slippery real quick.
Know when to say "No".