It’s not that I’m ungrateful for my own healthy childhood, free from the horrors of Polio, Mumps and Measles. Nor do I wish upon any boy or girl the annoyance of oatmeal baths and Calamine lotion, spread like icing over pock infested skin. I’m just a little confused, here, about what constitutes an emergency in a society intolerant of fevers, rashes, acne, or the wrinkles confirming everyone’s greatest fear: we are all getting older by the minute. As if I feel didn’t feel bad enough about being so …well, imperfect, I am now made into a monster on top of that if I answer anything but an enthusiastic “NO!” to my doctor’s loaded question of, “Do you really want your daughter to suffer through the flu … DO YOU?”
“Close the shades, kids! Lock the front door! Your brother has the sniffles, and a cough! Keep it from the neighbors that we let nature take its course. ‘Don’t you know there’s a pill for that?’ they’d say.”
What did parents do before Google, advertised prescriptions, or reruns of the Oprah Winfrey show? What kind of supernatural wisdom enabled them to dress, feed, discipline, and entertain their families without cable? How did they not go clinically insane at having to wait for a letter, a dress to be sewn, or strawberries to come into season? Admittedly, my own mothering intuition is getting a bit rusty, and more often than I care to divulge do I self-medicate impending dilemmas using nothing but a debit card and an overcrowded Walmart, soothing the sores of humanity with Playstations, DVD’s, and super-sized bags of Fritos. Now that I think about it, when was the last time I used my instincts to work through anything?
It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the abundance of food, information, and electronic devices available on a moment’s notice, to make this life more palatable. Nor do I wish upon any boy or girl hardships or bouts of boredom. I am just a little worried about my own kid’s chances of survival if, God forbid, a tragedy came upon us. How would they find the wherewithal to persevere, despite discomfort, if I teach them by example that pain and inconvenience are unacceptable? How will they know their own strength, if they never bear a burden on their shoulders? So if you see my children whining, indignant over hearing the word “no,” don’t worry, it’s not that I’ve lost my check book but that I’ve found my own opinions, and the nerve to make a choice all by myself.
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