Jessica is my 14-year-old daughter. As I am addicted to cookies, she is addicted to egg and cheese sandwiches (and Justin Bieber). There are less healthy things to be addicted to. So it’s not a problem for us, except for the time it takes to make them for her while trying to get everyone out the door in the morning. And, I’m a big proponent of training kids to take on responsibility commensurate with their ages.
My suggestion to Vanda, my wife, was that Jessica learn to do some things for herself – like making her own breakfast. After all, I was making my own when I was 2 1/2, like everyone else born before the Ford presidency. (We actually walked 2 miles to school in 3 feet of snow during winters in Syracuse, NY). So this didn’t seem like a huge task to me.
But it did to Jess. All of a sudden this girl who normally catapults caution to the wind – breaking bones and dislocating joints – listed in rapid fire fashion several reasons to kill the idea before it reached the floor of the house, like: “I don’t know how,” “What if I burn myself?,” “You’ll waste a lot of eggs teaching me how,” “But, those poor baby chickens!”
One day our luck changed. Emma, our 12-year-old, actually made her own egg and cheese sandwich! I think it was more of a science experiment than an effort to take on more responsibility, but who cares why? My wife and I, as any good parents would do, used it as a tool to coerce the elder sibling into to doing what we wanted.
“Jessica, Emma has successfully made herself an egg and cheese sandwich, and nothing bad happened,” we exclaimed. “Do you realize what this means?”
Jess thought about it for a couple of seconds. Then her eyes got really big and she said, “Yes, now Emma can make me egg and cheese sandwiches too!”
It’s hard to believe that a human being could miss the point by such a long shot.
Oh, by the way, how’s your Christmas season going?