This week I heard a story that got me thinking. . .It involved a pair of moms, a gaggle of kids and a road trip to nowhere. The dad who told me about it said, in true Texas fashion, "It was already snakebit, might as well turn around and go home." I laughed and shook my head, because I knew exactly what he meant. We've all hit those places where we know without a doubt that it is time to throw in the towel, when nothing good can be wrung from a situation. We've looked for the lesson, the quick fix, the silver lining, the funny side and it's just not there. The cost-benefit analysis comes up with "snakebit."
Kids run into those situations too: the friend who doesn't reciprocate or respect, the skill that only more talent could improve, the grade that just isn't going to make it past a B or the SAT score that won't pass 2000, no matter how many times the test is taken. I see a lot of parents who are loathe to let their kids throw in the towel in these situations. They believe that with just a little more encouragement, their child can rise above the current adversity. In their cost-benefit analysis they forget to factor in wear-and-tear on the child's self-esteem.
In my competitive suburban environment, a lot of young people don't believe their best is good enough. They measure their worth by their achievements in physics or tennis. They don't understand that 93 and 99 are both A's and that after their first semester of college no one will ever care again what grade they got in high school algebra. And because they don't understand this, and because their sense of worth is attached to their achievements, they don't take time to try things for fun; things that could become grand passions for life: dancing, water-skiing, reading for pleasure, cooking, playing games or a new instrument. After all, in their world, failure is not an option. Throwing in the towel is not an acceptable choice.
Now I'm not advocating that you should just let your kids quit - perseverance does build skills for life. I fully support all you parents who refused to let your freshman quit band camp and hang out at the pool this week. It's hot and miserable and I'll bet they wanted to, but you knew they would regret that decision by the first football game. Your child made a commitment to the marching band and you held him to it. I just want to remind you that cost-benefit analysis matters in your kid's world too. Not every goal is worthy. Or reasonable. Sometimes close IS good enough. And some things ARE just "snakebit."
I worship a God of second chances. A God who desires abundant life, not needless sacrifice. One who stayed the course because I can't. A God who understood that creation was "snakebit" and imperfect and loved it anyway. I think that's a pretty good parental model to try and emulate!