Alex is almost 13, but the teenage tendencies haven't waited for his birthday. Yesterday was especially bad and I'm not sure why. He just felt his life is so unfair because he has to do all the work around here. And by "all" the work that he does, I mean that he had to bring the trash can from the street to the garage and put the dishes in the dishwasher. Since he was having a hard day, I asked Elisa to push the button to close the garage door after they brought the trash can in an to push the button to start the dishwasher, but he wasn't happy. He said that just because she did it once means nothing, that he has to do that hard button-pushing more often than his sister. "It isn't fair!"
I talked to him and he eventually calmed down, after throwing his arms into the air and stomping upstairs. I mentioned that I don't think he wants a fair life. If Heavenly Father evened everything out so that all children had the same "fair" life, he would see how easy he has it. I told him he would probably be forced to work in a mine or on a field with no breaks and probably no shoes and not know when he was going to eat next. He has seen poverty in Ecuador on our short visit and I've tried to show my children in documentaries and books, but he is (almost) a teenager and everything is about them and their feelings and fairness.
I remember feeling the same way when I had to do the dishes with my sisters (by hand and there were 8 of us in the family) and had to miss my favorite TV show. It wasn't fair! Of course, there wasn't a minute of the day when there wasn't some show on that I wanted to see and the dishes had to be done. Working together is part of being in a family, but that's not how I saw it. This experience with Alex made me think of a quote my stake president read on Sunday at stake conference that I posted below. It made me think about what I want for my son. I don't want an easy, lazy life to be sure. He would not grow or learn. I want to protect him (and my other children, of course) from hurt feelings and trials, but I can't because they are part of this life and they could not reach their amazing potential without them. I think the following says it wonderfully.
From the book People Who Live At The End of Dirt Roads by Lee Pitts and quoted by journalist, Paul Harvey ....
THESE THINGS I WISH FOR EACH OF YOU
We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I'd like better. I'd really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.
My cherished grandson, I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. I hope you have a job by then.
It will be good if at least one time you can see a baby calf born and your old dog put to sleep. I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a Disney movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you'll let him.
I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope your driver doesn't have to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your mom.
If you want a slingshot, I hope your dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one, I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use those newfangled computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.
I hope you get razzed by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother, that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.
May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I hope you get sick when someone blows cigar smoke in your face. I don't care if your try beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.
I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your grandpa and go fishing with your uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and the joy of holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through a neighbour's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster of Paris mould of your hand.
These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness.