The Color Purple
I attended a meeting recently where many people were wearing purple clothing. Once I noticed this, my first inclination was to figure out a way to go home and change blouses. I was disappointed that I wasn’t with the majority. Then I caught myself. How silly. Own up to the fact that you’re standing out by not blending in, I told myself. Yea, that didn’t work on my psyche. Because this was an all-day meeting, I had the opportunity to ponder fashion for quite some time. How affluent we are. People are barefoot, starving and deprived of many things in other parts of the world. Here we are, buying purple blouses, ties, pants and shoes because that’s this season’s fashion. I’m not judging individuals. I used to be a clothes horse prior to babies. I suspect that once I’m an empty nester, I’ll go right back to my fashion crazed days. But now, when I don’t have the time or desire to do anything fashionable other than attempt to not embarrass myself too badly, I can’t help but wonder. We spend an awful lot of time and money on clothing. We throw out perfectly good clothes because it’s no longer fashionable. My favorite, most warm coat in the closet, gone. It’s offense? Having shoulder pads. I suppose it’s been like this for centuries. I wonder if there were different toga styles back in the day? And who didn’t love those nice wigs that men wore a few centuries ago? Standing back and looking at us humans I’m thinking we’re a little bit nuts with way too much time on our hands.
As parents, we want to teach our children to not be quitters. We want them to learn that when things get difficult, they should hunker down, try harder and prevail through the situation. But as I get older, I’m questioning this approach. Granted, there are times when sticking with it is the best course of action. When I run a half marathon, I want nothing more than to stop at about mile ten. But I don’t. Why? Because I know I can endure that final three miles, and more importantly, I know that I will be happy with myself if I finish and disappointed with myself if I don’t finish. I don’t like my disappointed self very much.
But what if your child is involved in something that they absolutely despise? In our case, it’s been a battle for three and a half years. There is only five more months left and it dawns on me. I ask myself why? Why are we forcing this kid to do something that he doesn’t want to do when the single reason for continuing at this point is simply to continue?
Time is precious and in limited quantities. I think that there are situations where I should stand back and evaluate the allocation of this resource. Mine and our family’s.
As we talk about this particular situation with our friends it inevitably comes up that we shouldn’t encourage quitting. True. I’ll concede that point. But I think the bigger lesson is to identify when it’s time to stick it out and when it’s time to quit. I woke up this morning thinking about all the non-quitters in the world. Those people who have been in the same job because they won’t venture out to try something else. Those who fill their time with trivial hobbies simply to fill the time. But then there are those who endured in difficult situations and prevailed as a result. Hmmmm. Maybe one of the decisive indicators is outcome? What is at the end of the road and is it worth it. Yes. I think maybe that’s the key.
The Bible addresses this issue in Ecclesiastics 3:1 where it reads “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Kenny Rogers’ lyrics to The Gambler says, “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” And fishermen have talked about cutting bait when they’re unsuccessful. Obviously, this is a common situation. And maybe one of the most important lessons to teach children.
So will we let our son quit with only five months remaining? I think it’ll depend on what he wants to do with that extra time. If he’ll use it to his advantage, than yes, probably so. If he uses the time to do nothing, then we may have made a mistake. Parenting is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done. And as promised (or warned), you really never quit parenting your children. One of the benefits is that you grow as a person in the process.
Random thoughts appear out of nowhere. Here is where I place them, not knowing what else to do with them as they tend to desperately want out of my head.