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Trivial pursuits? (10/19/2003)
By Janet Lewis Burns
"If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well." Work and responsibility are inseparable concepts, and both are the foundations of self-esteem.

Didn't you ever wish that you could take back time? So often I've expressed regrets that I spent so much foolish time and energy in my child-rearing years. I fussed over a little dust on the furniture and picking all the toys up every evening.

My daughter-in-law Christie has mentioned that I should have directed my two sons to the laundry room and the kitchen sink. I had many late night dates with jock straps, sweaty socks, grass-stained football jerseys, and wrestling gear. I realize the error of my ways...TOO LATE!

How fortunate that today's mothers can get all the answers from Dr. Phil, Oprah, Judge Judy, and Martha Stewart. What happened to Dr. Ruth?

My daughter-in-law Tracy hasn't been too hard on me. She has remarked that she's shocked that I never took my kids to The Sound of Music, but that's another subject. Gosh, I don't see what's wrong with Star Wars, E.T. and Planet of the Apes.

Our oldest, Kelly has teased me that I never taught her to cook. The only weak defense I can throw back is that she just didn't pay attention.

I see now that I allowed the urgent things to take precedence over the important. Back then I was programmed to say "YES."

If I could possibly "squeeze it in," I ran around like the Energizer Bunny doing every sort of volunteer work.

I've discovered that, as adults, our three never bring up nifty Christmas or birthday "stuff" they received from their father and me, or the brand name clothes I usually gave in to. It's those memorable times we shared as a family: a vacation to Texas for Christmas, Monkey Island and Lake Winona, holidays at Grandma and Grandpa Burns' and Lewis' cozy homes, tripping over slippery stones in the Whitewater, and all of us hiking down that fertile forest road, out on "the farm."

Our camping days with the kids were loads of work, but I treasured them. Those carefree getaways, up on Shenanigan Heights at Money Creek, with family friends, hold precious memories:

campfires - with jokes and pudgy pies in irons over the crackling wood, hiking adventures, swimming, and movies for the kids, flashed across a sheet on the office building's backside, after they all had showers in the rugged bathhouses, and looking like tanned, mischievous angels in their sparkling clean jammies.

Looking back on my youth, I could say I dawdled away hours on those sultry summer days. I would sit around creating paper doll clothes, sketching people, and secretly writing my deepest thoughts, in tune with my pink GE radio's country western.

I was one of those 3-4 kids who checked out those thick, foreboding volumes of early poetry and love sonnets from the school library Was my indulgence in the avant-garde lyricists of the 1800s and intensive daydreaming a waste of good time?

Let's not judge the lowly street poets and artists. They burn with musings, often brilliant and beyond their times. The world needs thinkers and dreamers.

I wonder, is a sport every season draining our school students' energies and hungers for other interests? Are studies being neglected, often looked upon as secondary to the big game or meet?

The arts programs- music, drama, journalism, public speech, creative writing, and painting - these skills can be of so much benefit in their adult lives, shaping who they are and what they can contribute to a hungry world.

Nothing is really work unless you'd rather be doing something else. Parents, please make sure that the sport is what your young person wants, and not merely (and thoughtlessly) what YOU have pushed him or her into, to make you proud and to build up your own ego.

"Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, and never let it fade away." That Perry Como sure knew what he was crooning about, back when...Dream on. 


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