The other day I was out of eggs, which as a person who adheres to a Paleo diet, is a crisis.
So I said to Sean, “Hop on your bike and run to the store and get me some eggs.”
“Yeah, right,” he said dryly. And then we both slapped our knees and laughed heartily.
It was funny because the thought that I would send him the half mile to the store and across a busy 4-lane road on his bike was ridiculous.
It wasn’t ridiculous because he’s not capable, because he is — he is more than capable. It’s not ridiculous that I would trust him to get the job done, because I am convinced he could. It’s ridiculous because there is no way under the sun that I would let him go. I have calculated the risk and it’s not one I’m willing to take.
After I quit chuckling, I felt everything from resentment to heavy heartedness that I couldn’t provide him such an excellent opportunity to practice responsibility in so many different ways from navigating his way there and back to managing the money to figuring out how to get a dozen eggs home without breaking any.
All throughout history, life has provided children with opportunities to practice being responsible. They tended to the stove and garden and helped care for younger siblings. Boys learned to chop firewood and hunt and girls learned to wring the neck of a chicken and then clean, butcher and cook it up for dinner — all real life jobs that contributed to keeping the body and soul of the family together.
As a Babyboomer, I of course didn’t do any of those things, but I did occasionally ride my bike to the store for a loaf of bread or something for my mom.
And now we can’t even do that.
Today we have to invent responsibility, like chore charts with stickers. Not getting a sticker or losing iPad privileges is not exactly the same as being the person responsible for not having enough food on the table. (Not a slam against chore charts or those who choose to use them. I love chore charts!)
I’m not saying we can’t raise responsible children in this day and age, I’m just thinking I’m going to have to be more creative in finding real life opportunities for practice. Maybe the next time I’m out of eggs, I will drive to the store, drop him off with $5 and see what happens.
If he comes out with candy then I’ll start raising chickens.