It is almost a week since the VA Tech massacre took place. It is scary to think that in such a short time such a heinous event has been relegated to history, but that is how it goes. Time never stops moving, people never stop living. It is a hard lesson but real.
A couple of days after the shooting I had a few of the guys I play basketball with split a pitcher of beer and chewed the fat about raising kids today. One of them told me that if he had to start over he wouldn’t have kids. He said that he couldn’t imagine having to “deal with what you deal with.“
I smiled and shook my head at him. I wouldn’t give up my children for anything. It is easy to look at the world and see the negative. It is easy to see the black and miss the light. I understand. I spend a lot time considering how to be as good a father as my father. I wonder how to live up to the standard set by my grandfathers.
They were all men who worked and worked and worked to provide for their families. Not that I do not work hard. I know that I do. I know that I am doing my best to give my children a life that is better than what I had and mine was good.
In my last post I blogged about paying the telephone bill. It is a rather mundane topic, but it ties into this. I have chosen to take on more bills than my parents had. When I was a child they didn’t worry about paying for an internet connection, satellite television, cell phones or private school. Then again they had more children to deal with than I do.
I suppose that you could make the argument that in some ways life was simpler. No net meant not having instant access to information. What happened across the country or on a different side of the planet felt much farther away than it does today. But that didn’t mean that they weren’t conscious of the impact of the nightly news on my siblings and I.
I can still hear Walter Cronkite reporting on various tragedies. I can still remember asking my parents hard questions about Vietnam, about Patty Hearst and why some fathers hit their kids with a belt.
During the summer my friends and I would bike all over the valley. We’d leave in the morning and come back in the late afternoon. Sometimes we would get so caught up in what we were doing we wouldn’t get back until the evening. No cell phones meant that unless someone had a dime there wasn’t anyway to call home and say that we were ok and just running late. A simple phone call would have helped to mitigate some of the fears of our parents, but it still wouldn’t have gotten us off of the hook.
Coming home after dark was a punishable offense and not recommended.
I can’t imagine that our parents worried any less about us than we worry about our kids today. Maybe there were fewer news stories about pedophiles and rapists. Maybe there were fewer shows about child abuse, but that doesn’t mean that our folks were footloose and fancy free.
Going back to my friend’s comment I think that to a certain extent it comes down to how much energy you have. Life can wear you down. If you let it, life will kick your ass. After a while you don’t always have the same stamina for the punches.
For me it comes back to attitude. You can look at life as a series of problems or challenges to overcome. Right now my biggest challenges are financial in nature. I wonder if my folks want to loan me a couple of bucks. See I have a few bills I have to pay….