With a state election looming — so very important — I pause in the last few moments of calm to ponder the state of the human process.
Generally in this space, adults try to solve the world’s problems. It’d be nice if the younger generations would follow along and pick up a few ideas, or even offer some, because after all, they’ll be the next set of voters. But, by the time they’re teens, they have left us and our parental wisdom to create their own mistakes and learn the hard way. They call it the better way. Nature calls it normal. I call it odd.
We know that “when we fail to remember, we are bound to repeat history.” So just why is it, parental morsels of wisdom are discarded as casually as last week’s name-brand shirt? Mother Nature just doesn’t make any sense on this one.
What’s especially puzzling is the grown-up kids come home and lay out their woes on a regular basis, but oddly, there’s a wide gap between their hurts and what I’m to do with them.
The suffering child — all mucked up by life’s challenges and, I quickly add, self-made challenges — proceeds to dump the contents of his/her pain all over the home. They wonder why life is so hard. So, digging deeply, within layers of precious experience, I pour out hard-earned solutions.
Experts advise that nodding and sympathizing with an occasional grunt is the best response to such conversations, but they’re awkward, so primitive. So un-me.
I gladly set aside my schedules to nurture. Truthfully, as with all conscientious parents, nudges of guilt push me to be especially attentive. I secretly know I’m responsible for all their problems.
I cancel lunches, give up private times with my husband and delay my own work schedule. No sacrifice is too great.
And then, as they unload their suffering, I share secret moments. I expound on trials, tears and turning points. I’m so caught up in the realization of how much I’ve learned that I barely notice my children’s glazed eyes. They have gone from their pained expression to an uncomfortable stare. It’s clear, not one tiny drop of my precious insight permeates their consciousness.
They politely nod. We hug awkwardly as they leave, but clearly they feel better. Of course they do. They’ve left their misery all over my space as they walk into fresh air, ready to go learn for themselves — again!
I guess Harry Truman was right when he said he found “the best way to give advice to children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.”
Someone explain something to me. How is it that knowledge from the past, such as how to cure polio, how to make light bulbs light and big chunks of metal fly, is passed from generation to generation, but lessons for wise living are not?
Why is it now that I know how to raise kids, be married, and work with a difficult boss, no one cares and there’s nowhere to practice all this stuff? When someone learns how to recycle wisdom into piercing ornaments and body tats, tech gizmos and hot shoes, evolution will sprint to the next level. In the meantime, I must go. There’s another child at my door with a fresh load of gloom. And, besides, I’ve got to figure out who to vote for. Not that anybody cares.
• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix TV anchor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.