Follow in Your Footsteps? Not a Chance!

I have a dream.  My dream involves my children having such an immense respect for what I do that they want to follow in my prestigious footsteps.  I mean, who of right mind, would not want to share my life?  In my mind, it would be an absolute privilege for a young person to have a mentor, a mother and a hero all in one.  And who else but myself could best fit that role.  Of course the children wish to grow up to be just like me.  Of course they do.

And then the alarm rang and reality sets in.  But after such a wonderful dream, I thought I would have a chat with my adorable children and see how close to the mark the dream was.

My children are 12 and 14 and we actually have a really good relationship.  We do a little teasing of each other now and then, and we often find ourselves laughing at life.  I think I know a lot about what makes them tick and I think I see bright futures for both my little angels.  But will they want to follow my footsteps?  I thought the best way to the answer was simply to ask them.

Turns out I may not quite be the hero to them that I thought I was.  To be honest, this is not at all a surprise to me.  The kids see us leaving to work long before they get up in the mornings; they see us lugging laptops everywhere we go; they see us connected and available 24/7; they see us taking three days of our vacation just to begin to re-energize.  Reflecting on it, we seem to be sending a message that “stuff” is more important than “time”, and that we earn bragging rights for the most number of hours worked in a week.

My kids belong to the “entitled” generation.  “Entitled” in the Cranch household has a different twist.  They are entitled to know how to become independent and contributing members of our community.  They are entitled to learn how to care for themselves.  They are entitled to offer help where help is needed.  They are NOT entitled to a TV in their rooms.  They are NOT entitled to cell phones.  They are NOT entitled to treat me like a maid and cook.  That aint happening.

But, my children live within a generation of kids who know what they want from life.  And surprisingly it does not seem to be all about money.  My kids will define success by different terms.  They will deem themselves successful if they are happy, and happiness will not be tied to corporate success.  In fact, I think success will be measured in terms of time away from work, as opposed to time at work.  Hallelujah, I say.  Maybe they can teach us old cats some of this attitude.  My kids will definitely live for vacations and I am pretty sure they will enjoy vacations much more than my generation.

Where I get confused, is how this entitled generation, brought up with cases of silver spoons, and a demand for a more balanced life, is going to handle the working years.  Will the desire for STUFF outweigh the desire for free time.  Man I hope not.  I read a great story about a prof who filled a jar with golf balls.  His students said the jar was full – but then the prof poured in a bunch of pebbles that then filled in the spaces.  Again the students said the jar was full.  But then the prof was able to pour in some sand – filling the rest of the holes.  He then tells the students that the golf balls represent the important things in life, like family, friends, passions, health.  The pebbles are things like your job, your home, your car.  The sand is all the small stuff, like a cell phone or a designer coat or a gold chain. If you fill the jar first with sand, there is no room for the golf balls – which are the things that should be most important.

I love this story and want to make sure my kids don’t care about the sand.  But, the way we all golf, we are going to need a really big jar full of golf balls.  And that is what I wish for my kids.  Don’t worship me (no problem there) or follow in my footsteps (no problems there), but I wish you a very large jar of gold balls!

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