People will talk periodically about some knowledge that a parent bestowed upon them. You especially see these little snippets of wisdom come out of an actor’s mouth as he is accepting his Oscar. And I immediately wonder if I bestow enough wisdom on my own child. What would my daughter say she learned from me? “Don’t buy anything that isn’t on sale?” Probably.
My parents were young parents. My mom was 25 when she was done birthing her three children. She seemed to be preoccupied with keeping us all alive. You know, keeping me from tossing my baby brother off the balcony, remembering to take me in from the snow, figuring out ways to prevent my youngest brother from cracking his head open (long stories). Truth be told, I don’t remember much in the way of wisdom.
Except this: “It Builds Character.” This is what I remember most. It builds character. I used to get so frustrated. “Mom, Danny said I’m flat chested.” “Well, it builds character. “Mom, Maria wants to beat me up.” “It builds character.” “Mom, I dropped out of high school and want to join the Peace Corps.” “It builds character.” (I actually did not do this last one, but you get the picture.)
What the hell did she mean? “It builds character?” This is what it meant, to me anyway: Life is rough at times. There isn’t going to always be someone there to pick you up. You really need to figure crap out for yourself. These difficult experiences toughen you up. Give you confidence. Teach you to be strong and forge ahead.
Did it work for me? I think so. Well, mostly. During those moments when I’m fighting the Blue Haired Brigade during Can Can week at Shop Rite, her words come to me. And I forge ahead. Every Monday morning, like clockwork.
As for The Kid? Seriously, don’t buy anything if it’s not on the sale rack. Saving money builds character. Or, at the very least, your bank account.