Tonight as I was cashing out at Wegman's, I was chatting with the cashier. This is normal for me. I am not sure how or why, but I usually end up learning quite a bit about them, as they do me, from the short amount of time we spend together.
The lady looked down at my items as she hurried the them along. She said, "Oh, I need to figure out what to make for my kids' breakfast tomorrow morning." She continued, "I made them pancakes yesterday and french toast today." I quickly realized that these were school days that she was talking about. After I pondered about asking for her address so I can join them in the morning, I collected my thoughts and said, "How about some cereal?" For that matter, yogurt, granola, fruit, etc....would also work just as well. She said, "Oh no, my kids have a late-block lunch, they need a hot breakfast." "Maybe I can give them oatmeal if they don't turn their noses up at it." I said, "Maybe they can take turns making their own hot breakfast?" I suggested this because I realized that they must be middle school or high school kids (she later told me that they are 8th grade twins). "They couldn't do that, I think I've spoiled them", she replied. I then preceded to tell her (this is where my friend K would say, "oh no, you didn't say that!), that my son who is 6 made his own scrambled eggs this morning and that she could offer that info to her girls for motivation. Yes, he put in too much milk and we had to strain off the liquid, but, he did it himself. She then told me that she works all day at one of the schools, and all night at Wegmans. The poor lady needs them to help.
Now, I realize that this woman may be suffering from the guilt of always working. But, that shouldn't give people an excuse to hinder their children's ability to care for themselves by spoiling them.
Maybe our kids have become more independent because there are four of them, or maybe it's because it is our hearts desire for our kids to be self-sufficient. Maybe it's a combination of the two. But as a couple, I know, we have been mindful of this and try to guide our kids toward independence.
Interestingly enough, we are a homeschooling family. That often gets the glares and comments about "sheltering our kids". We are very social and busy people- involved in many activities. But, more than that, we are training our kids not holding them back by spoiling them. We are training them to fly someday. In the past year and a half our twelve year old has made $600 mowing neighbor's yards and he has been taught the proper way to manage that money. Our kids can cook, clean, do laundry (the way their mother does it- which is the wrong way :-)), and basic home maintenance (redoing a deck, painting, gardening etc). We love our kids and spend time with them but honestly, if I didn't get any assistance and was bending over backwards to overly pamper them, I'd be 6 feet in the ground by now. We are simply outnumbered with four children running around.
So I implore all of us, myself included, to continue to assess what we are trying to teach our children. When they are 20 and about to strike out on their own, will they feel trained and empowered or a bit impish? It is up to us.