col Children celebrate Day of Freedom #x2026;

…; But Mom and Dad bemoan the results

With much trepidation and debate, it was decided last week to allow our three children to prepare themselves for school while we drove to work together to save miles and vehicular wear and tear. It had been on the list of our children's demands for some time. They felt we had been limiting their freedom and constantly bemoaned the fact their parents treated them as babies.

The children's routine on the Day of Freedom did not change -- up by 6 a.m., breakfast at 6:30 and dressed and on the bus by 7:05 a.m. The schedule allowed ample time to sweep the floor, wash the dishes and make a check around the house to see that lights were off and the cat fed.

A telephone call at 7 a.m. brought assurances that everything was in good order and that this particular parent could stop his useless worrying. The truth -- and it was destined to be awful -- would not be uncovered until hours later.

The front door was unlocked. On entrance, the startled and hungry cat leaped from the chair where it appeared she had been watching TV most of the day. Cereal boxes sat on the table, towering off a white sea of haphazardly spilled sugar and milk-stained spoons.


Unwashed bowls and milk glasses were strewn about the counter and the cupboard doors were flung open as if a hurried burglar had worked the house.

Their initial steps at claiming responsibility and freedom lay in ruins among the mess. Our disappointment built while we waited for the two youngest to get off the bus and sashay through the front door.

"What happened here?'' I asked, apparently speaking in some foreign tongue.

"What do you mean?'' Rachel said.

I swept my hand across the kitchen.

"Look at all this,'' I said. "Who's responsible?''

Not surprisingly, Rachel assured us that it was neither her nor Sam's fault. Sarah was a convenient scapegoat because she was still at school. Rachel rose in further defense, arguing that since Sarah was, in essence, our replacement, it was her responsibility to do what had been left undone.

That didn't sit well with Sarah, who pointed the blame at Sam and Rachel, who she described as hopelessly immature and untrustworthy.


"You're all in the same boat on this one,'' I said, adding that it would be a mighty long time before they could be trusted with such responsibility again.

The passage of time makes such a constraint unrealistic. As Sarah pointed out, she'll take driver's education next year and soon we'll have to buy her a car.

At least Sarah was remorseful. Rachel and Sam showed no such emotion.

With steely resolve, we will eventually grant them the freedom they crave and the responsibility they want. How different they are from me, who remained content enough to be a child for as long as possible.

They demand things that they cannot yet handle. Yet, they will be given another chance.

That's the thing about life, failure never really destroys a person. What generally is fatal to one and all is the failure to admit one's mistake.

Mychal Wilmes is Agri News managing editor.

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