Somehow I have failed my children. I have not done it purposefully. On the contrary, up until yesterday, I believed I was doing a pretty good job. I have done everything in my power to protect them. I monitor what television programs they watch. I enroll them in Catholic school. I make sure they are well-rounded– dance lessons, swim lessons, baseball, and choir. They are afforded the chance to have modern conveniences– iPad, iTouch, iPods, and computers. Yet, I have failed.
Yesterday, I needed to stop at the bank machine. We pulled up to a strip mall and I parked on the curb. The parking lot was pretty full, and I was only going to be a minute. In front of a store two doors down was a mailbox. I had the water bill in my purse, and it needed to be mailed.
Awesome, I thought. This will save me a trip to the post office.
“Carson,” I said to my 12-year-old daughter, “could you please run this bill down to the mailbox for me?”
“Sure, Mom,” she said.
We got out of the car together. I headed for the bank machine, Carson to the mailbox. I was forced to wait behind a customer who deposited a check and took out some money. After a few minutes, I was finally able to take money out of the machine.
I returned to the car, and Carson was not back yet. I had been at least five minutes. The mailbox was eclipsed by a giant pillar. My stomach churned. Where was she? The parking lot was full; people were everywhere. Could someone have abducted her and no one noticed? Some whack job killed twelve people in a movie theater the night before, whack jobs exist. I broke into a jog.
Just as the mailbox was about to come into view, Carson appeared. I stopped and breathed a deep sigh of relief.
As she got closer to me, I felt angry. She had scared me for nothing. “Where have you been?”
She held out her hand, and in it was my water bill.
“I don’t know how to use the mailbox.”
Did my 12-year-old daughter just say she doesn’t know how to use the mailbox?
I burst into laughter. “How is that even possible?” I asked.
She crimsoned. “I don’t know. I have never used one before. I can email. I can text. I don’t know how to actually mail a letter, though.”
All the modern conveniences and opportunities I provide for my children, and I had never taught them how to open a mail slot. I take for granted this simple task, but I guess if I did not know where to look or what to do, I might not see the handle on the mail slot, either.
I felt awful. At this point I thought, How else have I failed them?
- I have never taught them how to use a pay phone, and what if they are somewhere and they do not have access to a cell phone. Surely, they will befuddled by coins and/or collect calling.
- What about the rotary phone? I know they would think it couldn’t work without buttons.
- I know they would be stupefied by a car with manual locks and windows. I could just see Carson looking for the buttons to unroll the windows and unlock the doors. She would suffer heat stroke because she would think the car was defective.
- And I should probably tell them the Staples Easy button really doesn’t work.
Yes, I have failed my children, but I will not fail them any longer. This week we are going to have a crash course in life and the way we used to roll in 1977.