Sometimes there are days when I wish I could go back in time to when my most important decisions were resolved with an intense shootout of Rock-Paper-Scissors, arguments on the playground were settled with “do-overs,” Saturday morning cartoons were so much better and Lucky Charms were indeed magically delicious.
There are times when being a grown-up is just overrated. As we get older, everything is more complicated. We are expected to be more responsible, the things we need are more expensive and the years somehow have a way of changing our bodies and forcing us to give up those Lucky Charms for more fiber. (As it turns out, Lucky Charms isn’t really magical after all … you may be just as disappointed as I was to learn that it’s really sugar and not magic that makes them taste so good!)
The alternative to getting older, however, is not really a better option. My mother’s recent passing was yet another reminder that time goes by quickly and life, no matter how many years we get, is often way too short.
I am reflecting on thoughts of my own childhood and family as the United Way and our Success By 6® Program prepares to celebrate the “Week of the Young Child” during the week of April 15-20. It is a week where we will bring awareness and attention to the needs and aspirations of young children. For more information on the Week of the Young Child and all of the activities planned, please visit our website at www.unitedwaywb.org.
The United Way has long been and will continue to be an advocate for children. We believe all children have a right to be children and that all children and their families deserve opportunities to achieve their dreams regardless of any demographic or economic considerations. Your investment and support of the United Way helps thousands of children and families each year in our community build a foundation for future success.
As I get older and do my best to help guide my daughters through their teenage years, I am increasingly thankful for my parents. They weren’t perfect, as none of us ever are. Yet, for decades, my father did his best to serve the community he loved and the causes he valued. My mother, to paraphrase Mother Theresa, did “no great things”. She did do “many small things with great love.” Although she worked outside the home, the two jobs she cherished most in life were being a mother and then a grandmother.
I am very fortunate to have been born into a family filled with love and had parents that took parenting seriously. Sadly, this is not always the case for far too many children. Parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers and role models and parenting is the single most important responsibility any of us will ever have.
Last summer, Building Bridges, a grassroots community organization, held a series of discussions throughout Wilkes-Barre on all the ways we can help area children. The key finding of these discussions highlighted the need for better parenting. It was an important insight and a powerful acknowledgement and message for all of us.
If life is short, childhood is even shorter. The days of Rock-Paper-Scissors, do-overs and Saturday morning cartoons go by quickly. We owe our children our best efforts to help them reach their potential and achieve their dreams. Growing older just happens. Growing up, and growing up responsibly, requires effort … by all of us.
Bill Jones is the President and CEO of the United Way of Wyoming Valley. He can be reached at 829-6711, ext. 230.