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What Will Be Left When You Are Older?

Posted: 04/18/2013 3:53 pm

In reading this post by Kristen Howerton about how it is time to tone down all the "holidays" a notch, I couldn't help but think about the fact that it relates to something else that has really been bothering me.

It is this idea, this concept, this seeming need in our culture these days to have our children experience it all. As if there is some kind of ticking time clock over our heads that suggests somehow that if we don't make sure our children have the latest electronics, play *all* the sports and go as many places as possible, that we have somehow failed.

And I get it, totally. I want nothing more than for my girls to learn how to ski. Because skiing is amazing and wonderful and fun and lots of their friends are doing it. But skiing is expensive and time-consuming and takes a tremendous amount of effort to pull off the right way. Admittedly, I want them to learn to ski in Colorado, just like I did. And so, when each winter passes by without a trip there, I feel a pang of guilt and a bit of anxiety, as if my mind is saying, "There goes your shot. Again." I then have to remind myself that my girls are 9 and 5. There is plenty of time left to ski. Or maybe they will never ski and that will have to be okay, too.

It has me wondering that if by age 9, my daughter already has a Kindle Fire, access to an iPad and has been to New York City twice and on and on, what is left for her to experience when she is older? Am I somehow setting her up for crushing disappointment when real life settles in and she realizes that you can't always have exactly what you want when you want it? Am I taking away her opportunity to experience the joy of growing up and having amazing opportunities come in due time? Am I robbing her of the feeling of genuinely waiting for something you really want and the excitement when you actually get it?

I remember in 8th grade there was a big dance at the end of the school year. I also remember that there was a giant controversy over whether or not the girls should be allowed to wear strapless dresses. At the end of the day, the mothers organizing the dance decided that we girls would have plenty of time left in our lives to wear strapless dresses and perhaps 8th grade is not the time for that. Of course, all of us girls protested and whined and complained and were just sure that we were old enough, mature enough, grown up enough to pull off that look. Today, I look back from the mom seat and say a silent thank you to those moms who knew best. There was plenty of time left. And we were all better off for having to wait.

See, life is full of waiting. And monotony. And routine. And missing out.

Life is full of missing out.

It seems as though we have forgotten that in our little suburban bubbles, and I think we may be missing the chance to teach it to our children.

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Maybe it really is OK to say to our children, "Not right now." Or, "No." Or, "Perhaps next year." Or, "When you are older."

Maybe the short-term pain of their anger or sense of injustice and the unfairness of it all will be met with the long-term gain of their ability to be patient. To genuinely learn what it is to wait. To work hard. To really understand that in life, there is something to be said for getting something all in due time.

 
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