The Not-so-Magic Box

"We can’t always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future" -  Franklin D Roosevelt

As parents our roles continually change. Our infants need constant care, toddlers need discipline and correction, preteens need encouragement and support and teenagers need guidance and freedom with boundaries. Once our children leave the nest and go off to college we still have a role to play although it differs from any role thus far. I believe college kids are just old youth without parental guidance, not that we don’t want to or give them guidance; they just don’t take said guidance.

They are young, strong, beautiful, healthy and smart, they truly do have the world at their feet. The problem, if being young does have a problem, they lack wisdom. We can certainly talk about and debate the difference between intellect and wisdom but that is for another conversation. Their lack of wisdom is due to the fact that they simply haven’t lived a life yet. They haven’t had a lot of experiences under their belt that have taught them lessons, expensive lessons, emotional lessons or physical lessons. Don’t misunderstand, some of our young people have lived more of a life and have had to learn more lessons then some of us in our fifties, but these young people do not fit into the category that I refer to. I’m talking about kids like my own that have had a good comfortable childhood. We have never been rich, but we have never been poor either. My children need to work, not to help me make the rent but to build a resume and their own character. The children in this category are kind, thoughtful and compassionate, they are goal oriented and have a strong work ethic, but sometimes and I just mean sometimes they forget that they are twenty something and can and should be taking care of themselves so they have a tendency to fall back a little too heavily on us to take care of them.

Let’s look at, for instance, the conundrum of a full refrigerator and pantry, these sweet beings will open up the doors, stare, close the doors and sigh heavily because there is, "nothing to eat."  I’m sure they think that by opening the doors they have done their part and something should just jump out and land on a plate ready for them to consume. You would think that smart, strong kids could take a piece of sandwich meat, a piece of cheese, a bit of lettuce and finally a tortilla and come out with a wrap.  Heck, we usually even have bacon bits that they could throw in for flavor.

I shop for groceries once a week (did I mention how much I hate to grocery shop) and at the end of the week I am throwing spoiled and rotten food out just to make room for more food that I will have to throw out next week, simply because no one thought they could eat unless the food has already been washed, cut, cooked and served to them. So, I wrote a little note to my family and stuck it to our refrigerator door just to make sure that at this point in their lives they know that it is not up to me to make sure that they eat every day. They are more than capable of putting a meaty substance in between two pieces of bread and calling it a meal:

Boom! Lunch!

Dear Family:

Behind these doors you will find a wealth of treasures, treasures that will make you strong, smart and add years to your life. They promise to keep you young and healthy. They can clear your complexion and soften your skin. These treasures are special and will make you happy and fulfill your basic needs and desires.

These treasures are made of the earth’s finest and most costly resources. They are made from God’s finest creations and creatures that He Himself put in our care to tend to in order to give us the desires of our hearts.

Inside this black box the treasures you will find are various meats, cheeses, assorted fruits, vegetables, liquids of many colors and flavors, grains and occasionally you will even find treasures from under the sea.

These treasures are precious and like all precious treasure they have come with a great cost. Your father has risen each and every day and battled the elements granting him access to this splendor. He has passed this great power on to me, giving me the freedom, to enter the devil’s lair (some folks call it a grocery store) in order to conquer the depths of despair and reign superior over other treasure hunters in order to bring this wealth home to you, my children.

Apple pie

Do understand this is not a magic box. Upon opening of these doors, you are committing yourself to creativity, hard work and dedication. Nothing here will manifest itself in front of you ready to be consumed and enjoyed. Your willingness to put things together creatively and work the tools that surround you will grant you great power in overcoming all stresses and anxieties that you must face in your everyday life.

Everything beyond these doors belongs to you. You do not have to ask my permission nor do you need my approval. I am always available for guidance but you are as qualified as anyone else to make these riches a pleasurable part of your life. You are free to experiment, try new things and share your discoveries with anyone you would like.

But be warned that these special treasures do not get better with time.   If not cared for properly or consumed before I attend my weekly treasure hunt they will grow sour, become moldy and not only will they not fulfill the promises that they once held so richly but will indeed make you sick even unto death.  If too many treasures start to lose their richness I can assure you that my treasure hunting days will be over and I will most certainly pass the torch onto you.

Peach cobbler

So, children please use these treasures, create, enjoy, share, laugh, cry and live because one day through the passage of time the treasure hunt will become yours and it will be hard and it will consume you and I hope that you will teach your children that inside their black box treasure also awaits them, as long as they, as you have learned, put forth a little bit of effort.

After a recent purge, and there is still something to eat

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