It is great when kids are raised in a loving home! They have a mom and dad who love them; their needs are taken care of; they have no concerns about the genesis of their next meal; they know that mom and dad will take care of them; and they know that mom and dad will let them do things that other kids could not do in their home.
However, the age of innocence always comes to an end, as the realization sets in that not everybody loves them the way that mom and dad do! Yes, sooner or later, all children find themselves in a situation that, if mom and dad were present, all would be taken care of for them. However, without mom and sad, they get the felling that their world is ending, which of course, can serve to elevate their views of mom and dad!!
At any rate, when our kids were 3, 6, and 9, they were playing in the backyard together. My wife and I were in the kitchen watching them through a window, admiring their ability to get along like three loving siblings. At some point we left the kitchen for a few minutes, but returned a little later.
Behind our home was a large field of manicured grass that belonged to an upper-level condo association. The only thing that separated our property from theirs was a group of cherry trees. Between the trees and condos was about 200 yards of grass. Nobody from the condo association ever came near the cherry trees. It was a gorgeous view with seemingly complete privacy.
As a neighborhood bonus, our next door neighbor often gave our kids some cherries and sometimes he even took them back there to pick some cherries for themselves.
The moment that I returned to the kitchen and looked through the window, I saw all three of our kids walking quickly along the line of cherry trees, single file toward our house, and none looking very happy. They immediately came in the house with obvious looks of insecurity and concern. What could have possibly happened?
Our oldest child explained that they had decided to pick some cherries, just like they had on many occasions with our neighbor. Apparently, some “scary older lady” came out of her condo from 200 yards away and yelled at our children to get away from the cherry trees. All alone without the security of their parents, our kids quickly scrammed back to the safe zone of home!
Yes, our kids, facing adversity without their parents to protect them, quickly retreated to our home to find us! They could not believe that they had been summarily dismissed from the cherry trees; they could not believe that an adult had been so rude and “scary” to them; and they could not believe that they had faced different treatment than our neighbor had received.
It served as a great lesson on all levels, as it reminded them that the trees were not theirs for the picking, even if our neighbor DID pick cherries from the trees; it reminded them to NEVER wander away from mom and dad without letting us know of their anticipated destination; and it served to remind them that not everybody is going to love them like mom and dad!
We quickly made some hot dogs, added some French Fries and Coke, and celebrated the fact that our kids were safe; they were with people who loved them; and we discussed that we could go to the store later to get some cherries!
How about you? Have your kids ever learned life lessons the hard, but memorable, way? If so, let me know!
Paul W. Reeves