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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Food for Thought

The other night I let the twins watch "Whitney" with me. S. Sue asked if Whitney and Alex were married. I told her no, they just lived together. Very innocently she looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked, "Why??" I replied with, "Some people choose to do it, but we'd prefer if you didn't." I realize we live in an imperfect world. If the world were perfect, they'd be able to learn from all my mistakes without having to actually make them.

My job is to teach my kids right from wrong, knowing that they'll make mistakes. The second part of my job is helping them recover from the aftermath of those mistakes. Our little conversation made me think about what I am teaching my kids when they aren't looking. Are the messages they get from what I watch contrary to what I say? Yep. I hate double standards. The thought of "Do as I say, not as I do," isn't a comfortable thought for me. My Dad sent me the following, and I had to share. No matter what your religious or political views are, it is worth reading and thinking about how we treat "The Stranger."

The Stranger
A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on. 

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger... He was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies. 

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind. 

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. 

(I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.) 
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home - not from us, our friends or any visitors. After our long time visitor stayed longer he became more daring however, and even got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.. 
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave. 
More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.
 Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. 
His name?....
We just call him 'TV.' 
Note: This should be required reading for every household!)
He has a wife now....we call her 'Computer.'
Their first child is "Cell Phone".
Second child "I Pod

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