Carlos has this game that he likes to play. I use the word “game” loosely since most of the time he plays it after he has gotten in trouble over something. After being corrected on something, he’ll ask me if I had to do this or that when I was a little boy. For example, he might be complaining about the fact that bed time is fast approaching and ask, “Papi, did you have to go to bed at 8:00 when you were little?” Or upon seeing some undesirable food items on his plate, he’ll ask, “Papi, did you have to eat all your food when you were little?” And so on.
The underlying cause behind the question is to compare his state in life to mine and see if they match up or to see if there is any perceived unfairness. And to be honest, it got to be very annoying and I would end up dismissing his question by answering “It doesn’t matter what I got to do.”
The more I thought about this though, the more I realized that what I got to do when I was little did in fact matter. My parents did make me eat all my food (even the detested broccoli!); I did have a set bed time; I did have chores and schoolwork, etc. And I had all these things because my parents knew something I didn’t know. Well, a lot of somethings, actually. They knew that the values they taught me as a child would be the same values I would have as an adult and the same values I would teach my children. They taught me not to be wasteful (“Don’t take more than you can eat”), to be grateful even for the unpleasant things (“Yes, you need to eat the broccoli”), and to be responsible (“Have you done your chores?”), among many things. They also taught me that as my parents, they had a God-given responsibility for and authority over me. Sometimes they gave explanations for directions they gave, sometimes they didn’t. But my responsibility as their child was to honor and obey them, even when I didn’t understand, agree or like it.
Now, when Carlos asks me what my life was like as a little boy, I try to tell him that yes, my parents made me do this too. And I tell him that I’m glad they did.
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