This past weekend I entered a new experience—I became a grandfather.
Not permanently, thankfully! My sophomore daughter, in her child development class, brought home one of those fake babies. It cries, needs to be feed, needs to be held, needs its diaper changed, and within its little plastic body contains a computer critically recording the attention it receives.
My daughter’s grade depends on appropriate care. Folks, if you want an effective method of birth control—this is a splash of hard reality for a 16-year-old to discover the responsibilities of motherhood. By the end of the weekend, we heard the following phrases:
“I’m only 16—I shouldn’t have to take care of a baby!”
“I’ve done everything I can, and it is still crying. Why won’t it stop crying?”
“Why won’t you go to sleep?”
“Just leave me alone. I am exhausted from watching the baby.”
“If I get a bad grade, it is the baby’s fault. It won’t tell me what to do.”
(Do you see yourself in any of those phrases?) She couldn’t go out with her friends—had to take care of the baby. Couldn’t swing and veg out with the iPod—had to take care of the baby. Couldn’t watch movies with us. Had to watch the baby.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching her being dropped into a duty she was clearly not prepared to handle. Nuts, none of us first-time parents were ready for the awesome responsibility of taking care of a new human. But over time, as we became more familiar with the steps that worked and the steps that miserably failed, we just naturally took on the cloak of accountability that comes with parenthood. Did it without thinking.
And if we had a second child, some of the previous memories came back and a quick refresher as to the responsibility, and again, over time, we simply fall back and do things without thinking. It was fun to see someone else have that brand new experience and re-remember those feelings.
Which got me to thinking—how many other things do I do, in which I have a responsibility and I am simply going through the motions? Just doing what I did yesterday, the day before, the week and months and years before without ever taking a moment and contemplating the awesomeness of the adventure?
As a citizen—how cognizant am I of my responsibility? It is always discouraging to an attorney to hear people attempt to get out jury duty. As if it is some torturous implementation of our government. Yet the same people can be the first to complain about the inadequacies of our justice system!
How many people know their state representative/senator? Or their federal representative/senator? How many of us have never written to either—yet complain about what our government is doing?
How many of us have never gone to a local school board meeting? Or a local governmental meeting? Yet we wonder why our school’s sports program requires a fee to play, or why our children’s books are 5 years out of date.
As I watched my daughter struggle with what is natural to me, I realize I have fallen into a malaise toward my own responsibilities in other areas. That I have reduced my citizenship responsibilities to paying taxes, reading reports in media and whining with the best of them.
It is time for me to become more actively involved. To take on some responsibility rather than let this life lazily pass by.