A few years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with the relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and paused. Then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them. One girl with Down's syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for 10 minutes.
A wise man will never rust out. As long as he can move or breathe he will be doing for himself, his neighbor, or for posterity. Almost to the last hour of his life Washington was at work; so was Newton. The vigor of their lives never decayed. No rust marred their spirits. It is a foolish idea to suppose that we must lie down and die because we are old. Who is old? Not the man of energy, not the laborer in science, art, or benevolence; but he only who suffers his energies to waste away and the springs of life to become motionless, on whose hands the hours draw heavily, and to whom all things wear the garb of gloom. Is he old? should not be asked, but is he active? Can he breathe freely and move with agility? There are scores of gray headed men whom we should prefer in any important enterprise to those young men who fear and tremble at approaching shadows, and turn pale at a lion in their path, or a harsh word or a frown.
When parents make a practice of hurting and humiliating their children, they do permanent damage. There is a big difference between describing what you don't like or don't stand for, to a child, and your resulting to name-calling, sarcasm, and cutting remarks. Try to avoid criticism and advice about appearances and clothes. Don't say "just do as we say." Take time to listen, consider, and explain your feelings, let them decide on miner issues. Take a reasonable interest in your child's life, but you don't need to know every detail. Remember, teen-agers can't help being oversensitive to everything. Nature biologically causes a teen-ager to cast out the parents. Don't take it so hard. Appreciate their need to grow up and look outward. Don't be too shattered when all of the sudden you aren't as important any more. Get good books on teen-agers, read them, they will help you understand and may help you from making huge mistakes. When you understand where they are and they understand where you are you can meet a common ground.
Source: Gesell Institute. Albert W. Daw Collection
If you learn from your suffering, and really come to understand the lesson you were taught, you might be able to help someone else who's now in the same phase you may have just completed. Maybe that's what it's all about after all.