As one of my precious older grandchildren heads south for some sun and sand over school vacation, along with wishes for fun, I gave her a warning to protect her beautiful skin from the sun.
As an afterthought I said, “No second chances with your skin!”
Then I began to think about all the things that we have control over, but don’t have second chances to correct.
Risk taking in all aspects of our life can put our future in jeopardy. Our diets, alcohol consumption, drug use, poor judgement in relationships, and careless living in general all combine to give us the cumulative physical result.
Even too many sports injuries can make for painful existence in our older years. Looking back, most people can say that they wished they knew then what they know now about any number of poor choices. If only I didn’t smoke. If only I had not gained all that weight. If only I paid attention to my allergies. If only I flossed!! I could go on and on!
They desire a successful life and a satisfying career for their children. They teach them to get along with others and to choose friends wisely. Parents hopefully take their children to the doctor and dentist and teach them good healthy eating habits. Yet I doubt there is a conversation about growing old, and not just growing up.
Every now and then there will be teachable moments in child and parent conversations.
An opportunity to express regret about something done carelessly in your youth could make a big impression. Just because as a child you were well cared for does not mean that you continued taking care of yourself as well as mom did. From high school on, our offspring do not want to hear our loving suggestions about their activities. So, I think starting earlier when they actually listen to you may be the best way to have the warnings sink in. It is not nice to watch 60 and 70 year old people struggling with body issues that could have so easily been prevented.
“I am from the future, and I want to warn you to NOT take off that knee pad and helmet,” the old guy with a smile like yours says.
Might make a good kids’ story.
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Lillian is a midwestern mother of 5 grown children and a grandmother of 10.