I have always felt sorry for children who are or were victims of neglect. I wonder what kind of parents would fail to provide their children with the basic necessities of life. Any idiot knows that babies need food, water, warmth, and attention. But I figured out something to add to my list of essentials: problems.
I know that God gives me problems because He loves me, Because life is a testing period. Because it makes me tough and even more awesome. And to be perfectly honest, I am grateful for the problems I have had. I think they have made me a stronger, more content, more compassionate person. I can identify with almost anything that a friend is going through because more often than not, I've been through it too. So most of my problems, I wouldn't take away, even if I had the option of living my life over. With the stunning exception of about three experiences in my entire life, which I won't talk about now because it would make me depressed.
My point is: I am also really grateful for the problems my parents let me have. I'm not saying I'm grateful my parents fought, or that they got divorced, and that my Dad has some weird ideas that have screwed me up for life (and no, those aren't the three experiences I was just talking about). But I'm grateful that most of the time, my parents let me do my own thing. They were old enough and smart enough to let me make mistakes, to let me have my own experiences, good and bad. Thanks to them, I had problems, and now I'm a better person.
My six year-old is only six. I know that. But the kid has led a pretty charmed life. Hasn't had a lot of problems. And thus, he thinks that everything, and I mean everything that he hasn't any experience with, is "weird" or "sucks."
Barbershop quartet in a movie? Weird.
Opera singer on Sesame Street? Sucks.
Black girl in a movie with a little afro? Weird.
Today I had enough of it, and I said, "You know, you must have a really boring life to think that so many things are weird."
It was only after I said it that I realized the magnitude of what I had said. Growing up somewhere where everything is provided for you and done for you is not only boring, it's harmful.
My employer got in a car accident this morning, and even though the car was only a little bit scratched in the front, she was completely undone. We had the following conversation:
Me: So how bad is the car, really? It doesn't look too bad.
E: No, it's awful. Come see.
(I come over to get a closer look, press my nose against the bumper, and ...)
Me: Oh. right. There are a couple scratches. (trying to make light of it) I guess that's the benefit of driving around in a tank, huh? I mean it could have been a lot worse.
E: Sigh. I guess.
It's just plain not healthy.