(The Mormon Third Eye, perennially a popular promoter of responsible journalism, issues the following warning for young parent readers- this post is for you. For you empty nesters, I’m sorry- it’s too late.)
What do kids want? What do they really want? Who knows? Decades ago, when I was a young naïve father, I adopted a very scientific approach. I quickly learned that even my own young rugrats either didn’t know what they wanted, or strategically but subconsciously may have decided to deny me this knowledge, in order to maintain a selfish aura of mystery about their own childhood. To defeat this, I observed them carefully open presents during birthday and Christmas celebrations. There were old parents’ tales about children loving to play with the boxes more than the toys that came in them. So one year I brought home a slew of big empty boxes for the kids to play with in the unfinished basementorium beneath our house. I had my proof. I knew what kids wanted. They enjoyed numberless hours in space ships and pirate ships imagined out of those boxes.
Or so I thought. Just a few weeks ago, I was commiserating with a close personal friend of mine, who like myself, was an empty nester with her kids grown and gone. We talked about the glory days when our children were playing in boxes and in neighborhood basketball leagues. She had raised a normal Mormon nondescript family with her husband whom she loved most of the time. Her family and marriage were definitely not perfect; they had had their share of ups and downs, but they tried hard with the light they were given, and harbored normal hopes that the mistakes they did make did not make it into their permanent parenting record and unfairly penalize the futures of their children.
Then she showed me an email her and her husband had received from their grown married son. Here’s the juicy part: “I'm grateful for the sacrifices that you have both made so that I might live the life that I do. It was great to never have to worry about your testimonies or your relationship with each other growing up. I think those were perhaps the greatest gifts I've been given.”
What do kids want? The example of love and testimonies? Young moms and dads, you still have time. Think about it.