It has been an interesting week with all of the news of Osama and Obama and Navy Seals and, of course most importantly, Kate and William. Everyone seems to be doing their best to do their duty.
My problem is that, even at 58, I can't think of that word, "duty," without bringing up memories of my childhood. Parents, as you probably already know, are an interesting group of people. They often do things that they think are good for their children, but which in reality end up scarring them for life. My daughter Leanna, I think, blames all of her relationship issues on the fact that I once went into the high school gym to pick her up from a dance rather than wait for her in the car. I guess some of the boys saw this freaky looking older guy inside the gymnasium and it affected their worldview in such a way that they never again wanted to go to a high school dance and stand around like a bunch of hyenas waiting for dinner.
My son Karl reminds me frequently of the deep scars that still remain from the night I threw his shoes out on the front lawn. I did it, yes, I admit that I did. And at the time it seemed like a sensible thing to do. I was trying to teach him something--don't leave your shoes in the middle of the floor for so many days that they have become the permanent homes for assorted field mice and pocket gophers. The only problem was that it didn't work. Karl never did pick up his shoes (he was, I assume, too scarred at that point to make it out onto the porch to get the shoes). I eventually went out and brought them back in myself because I was feeling sorry for the field mice, and I didn't want to have to end up buying him a new pair of shoes.
Well, this brings us back to my childhood. My parents--loving people that they were--didn't want my tender ears and delicate tongue to be offended by hearing or saying a word like "poop." So, to protect me, they decided to teach me that when I had to go number two in the potty, it was to be called "doing my duty." Seems like an innocent enough thing to do, but it had terrible consequences. You see, by age 8 I was old enough to be enrolled in Cub Scouts. It was an exciting time. I was looking forward to endless afternoons building speedy pinewood derby cars (I was unaware at the time that the dads actually built all the cars) and being able to dress up smartly in my uniform to receive all kinds of awards, badges, buttons, and pins.
I am sure you can imagine my horror when, on the first day of Cub Scouts, we were told to raise our arms to the square and repeat after our leader the words, "On my honor, I will do my duty..."
So, parents please be cautious about the well-meaning, but often life-scarring things you do to your children. What you do may be emblazoned upon their memories for the rest of their lives.