During this unique time there are a lot of people who are at home with their children. With that in mind, I’d like to share a previous “Happy Dollars” story about a conversation that I had with my adult son a couple of years ago.  When my son was in his early teens, he and his friends got into some mischief at school. Needless to say, my wife and I were not too happy about it. We were trying to decide on an appropriate punishment. We came up with an idea that we saw as an opportunity to teach our son some discipline.
 
We decided that for the balance of the current marking period, my son’s “atonement program” would consist of daily participation in an early morning exercise workout with me. Brilliant right? A lesson in personal discipline!  As an optimist, I saw this as an opportunity for my son to learn about the benefits of self-discipline and a daily routine. I remember telling my wife that “Someday he’ll thank us for this.”
 
And so we began…… For almost two months, it was a struggle almost every single morning. He didn’t want to wake up. It was like that old Nancy Kerrigan clip…”W-H-Y??? W-H-Y???” And when he was exercising, his efforts were less than enthusiastic. One morning, I looked over while my son was riding a recumbent bike. I saw that he was peddling very slowly with his eyes closed! My frustration was going through the roof.
 
Here’s the deal: What we, as parents think are great ideas, are not always met with the same exuberance by our children. Despite my son’s daily protest, we moved forward with the plan. Finally, after all of his pushing back, we made it through to the next marking period without him missing a day. From his point of view, there was no more early morning drudgery. His “penance” was over. Hooray!!
 
I don’t know about anyone else, but at times, I feel like parenting and the decisions that we make, can provide a lifetime of both pride and guilt. The reason: On certain things, we can be either right, or wrong with the same decision. Throughout the rest of my son’s childhood and for most of his young adult life, he never mentioned that experience again. I always wondered if he perceived that experience in his childhood as a negative one. That’s where my “guilty parent syndrome” sets in. I know that we did it for all the right reasons, but at times I thought, “Was it too much?”
 
Fast forward to 2018: For the very first time in over fifteen years, the story about how he had to exercise every morning finally came up. When it did, the guilty parent in me was explaining what he already knew: That I did it with the best of intentions and that I hoped he saw it that way. As I was explaining, my son interrupted me and said, “Dad, you don’t understand! That was the best thing that ever happened. Don’t you remember? I lost the weight. That’s when I made the football team. It taught me a lot.” It was an amazing moment in a parent’s life. I thought I saw a unicorn! When he was a boy I said, “One day he’ll thank us”…And as a man, he did!
 
Today, my son has grown to be a fine young man with a family of his own. He is a Black Belt in Taekwondo. He has won both State and District Championships in multiple age brackets. We couldn’t be more proud!  I’d like to say to all of the parents out there…. There’s hope! The kids just might thank you one day!…And relieve you of guilt!
 
Yours in Rotary,
Tony Parziale
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