History Science

Take a Chill Pill – You Are Doing Just Fine

April 6, 2017
Ice Cream Causes Shark Attacks

My mom packed my dad’s lunch for work every single day, except on the days when he was working close by and could come home for lunch.  My father built and remodeled houses and provided for a family of eight doing it.  I don’t remember, but I am confident my mom even packed his lunch when she had some illness one of us had given her.

Before he left for work, she would walk him to the front door and would give him a kiss goodbye.

I helped my Dad put on a roof one week during the summer.  That was not easy work.  Do you know what roofs are closer to than the ground is?  The sun.  And, do you know what color the paper is that goes under the shingles?  Black.  It is hot!

My parents had rather gender-defined roles, yet I grew-up knowing my capabilities were no different than someone of the opposite sex.

My mom didn’t go back to work until I was in middle school.  And she had to fuss with my dad a for a bit to get her way, but she got it.

My youngest-older sister and I used to wait on the living room couch peering out of the window waiting for my dad’s truck to pull in the driveway because we always waited for him to come home before we had dinner, or supper as my dad called it.

truck - lunch

Today, a child might be waiting by the window until nightfall or even later.  It seems that children and parents are infinitely spread out in their evening routines, whether that is due to after-school activities or because one or both parents are commuting a distance from work and are at the mercy of traffic.

traffic - lunch

It seems that less and less moms and dads get home at a consistent time.  Or, in my case, there is a traveling spouse and days pass before he joins us for dinner.

My mom used to pack my lunch too.  I honestly think she packed it even when I was in high school.  Go ahead and pick yourself off of the floor from passing out from your gasp.  No. I did not lay around like Jabba the Hutt all day.  I had chores.  I was a good student.  I became a reasonably successful adult, who is fully capable of packing my lunch and the lunches of others despite this terrible choice my mom made. 😉  I do not look like this.

jabba - lunch

Does anyone else ever think in this mindset:

Our children have the rest of their lives to do it themselves?

reading - lunch

It is kind of like teaching a child to read when they are three.  Aren’t they going to learn when they are five or six and then read for the rest of their lives?  I am just not sure I am sold on how that gives them a leg up in the world.  A leg-up in kindergarten and first grade maybe, but in the whole world?

Probably not.

Do you think someone is making a lot of money off of that?

Maybe it is just because I think I can make character voices better than they can at that age.  That, and I still want an excuse to talk like a wolf or a pig.

Or, maybe I am just really passive, synical and lazy?

A child of someone I know didn’t really learn to read until he was eight or nine years old. He scored extremely well on his SATs and is graduating from college this year.  He is also an amazing artist.

I wish I could share an image of one of his pieces, but he is in the process of submitting them to various magazines and online reviews.  If you want to see some of his work though, you can click here.

Perhaps he spent that time when he should have been learning to read contriving ideas to create on paper instead of poring over sight words.  Don’t you think it all somehow works out?

I read something this week about a mother teaching self-sufficiency in her children by making her five-year old pack her own lunch in Kindergarten.  I am scratching my head.  I just don’t know that packing your own lunch is a life skill that a young child won’t learn when they are older.  And, if we pack it for them are they going to be college drop-outs?  I wonder if Bill Gates’ mother packed his lunch.

Here is the thing.  If you want to pack your child’s lunch then pack it without fear of your child’s future failure being at the hand of your peanut butter slathered butter knife.

lunch bag - lunch

And, to the contrary, if you want to teach your children the life skill of packing lunch at age five – so be it.  Perhaps, it will make you rest easy at night believing you are giving them the foundation of responsibility off of which everything else will be built.

And, you could very well be right.

I wish we could have a parallel study of both scenarios to let us know which child was most-successful – the one whose parent packed their lunch or the one who didn’t?  But what about the parent who handed the child lunch money?  Scratching my head again.

And, how would we really measure that study.  How would one define success?  Would success mean happiness, kindness, amount of money made, entrepreneurship, becoming a corporate executive, small business owner, a starving artist, going to an Ivy League college, going to community college, building a successful carpentry business, becoming a surgeon, being a stay-at-home mom…?

And, what other factors, such as their IQ, their genes, their school system, how they were disciplined, whether they ate breakfast, whether they had enough sleep, whether they had to do chores, whether they were an athlete etc., etc., etc. played a role?

It is silly – right?

Correlations are correlations and conclusions drawn from them are sometimes just wacky. Here is a correlation to illustrate my point:

When ice cream sales increase, shark attacks also increase.  Ice cream causes shark attacks. 

shark and ice cream - lunch

We all know this is absurd and that ice cream is simply a calorie and fat laden innocent bystander that always drips on white shirts.  In reality, the correlation is that ice cream is consumed more in summer months and during summer months is when more people are vacationing at the beach and swimming in the ocean.

Don’t you think it’s all a bit a fluff?  All of the advice out there on how we are failing or not failing our kids?  Some of your moms smoked and drank while they were pregnant with you and rubbed liquor on your gums when you were teething.  Do you think you turned out poorly?  I am in no way advocating you do these things today – I am merely trying to prove my point that we are sitting around sweating and wagging our tongues with one another about insignificant minutia.

Pack the lunch.  Don’t pack the lunch.  Put money on their lunch account and let them buy lunch.  Let’s take a chill pill and stop spinning our wheels trying to meet the expectations of something we read (um, like this…Oops!).  Opinions change and new scientific studies prove something differently than a scientific study done a decade or two prior.  Think:  eggs, butter, margarine, low-fat foods, whole milk vs. low-fat milk.  We are told to eat or drink one, then not to, then to, then not.


The poor egg industry.  It has really taken a beating over the years.  Pun fully intended. 🙂

eggs - lunch

Shall we all just follow the Cub Scouts motto and ‘do your best.’

do your best - lunch

The best you can do is good enough.  Sometimes when my best falls a little short I go back to my theory regarding our God-given potential:  I believe we all have a set potential that is defined when we are created.

If you look at that potential as a dot on a linear path, you can fall short of that dot, you can meet that dot or you can exceed it, but only within a limited range.  Where we go in relation to our dot is determined by how we were nurtured and how motivated we are to perform.

For example, I will never be an astrophysicist.  It is impossible.  And it is not because my Mom handed me my lovingly packed lunch every school day.  I was not born with the motivation to become one.  My husband argues that I was born with the intellectual potential.  I think he is delusional or buttering me up for something.  I have my eye on him. Stay tuned.

Whether our moms packed our lunches for us or not is a blip that does not make the cut to move the dot.

In case you can’t let all those little things go (guilty as charged), refresh your memory on the concept of nature versus nurture and just do your best!

Nature versus Nurture

One of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology is the Nature versus Nurture debate, which is concerned with how much of certain parts of behavior are a product of inherited (genetic) or learned characteristics.

On the pure Nature side it is believed that there are genetic, hormonal and neuro-chemical explanations of behavior.

On the pure Nurture side it is believed that all behavior is learned through the environment through conditioning.

The debate has continued, because so far no proof has been found to demonstrate one is stronger than the other.  We know that we get our hair color, eye color, etc. from genes passed to us by our parents (as covered here) but the invisible characteristics, such as personality are less clear.

Over the years some psychologists have taken positions on one side or the other.  Sigmund Freud posed a theory of aggression concluding it is an innate drive (inherited).  To the contrary, in 1977, Albert Bandura established a social learning theory that states aggression is learned from the environment through observation and imitation.

Today few accept either of the extreme positions.  Too many facts exist on both sides of the argument that go against an all or nothing view.  Fraternal twins separated at birth have been studied and similarities beyond appearance have been found.  People who were abused have gone on to not abuse.  It really has boiled down to how much nature versus how much nurture, as both influence who we become.

If I had any psychology credentials what-so-ever, I would propose the debate continue, but might suggest it be called Nature and Nurture.  They do not seem to act independently of one another, but are intricately woven together to determine the pattern which ultimately makes the person.

So, lighten your load a little bit and follow that Cub Scout promise.

scout oath - lunch

When my children chart their path as adults, I sure as heck hope I don’t look back with a tear in my eye and say, “I wish I would have made them pack their own lunches.”  Or, “Only if I had taught them to read in-utero…”

They will know how to do their own laundry and pack their own lunches and my goodness I hope they will know how to read!  But when they come home on breaks from college, I will wash their clothes and I will make them food – even though they will know how to do it.  No one had better do a study concluding that my doing so will make their future marriages fail, but I would not be surprised if someone does!

Anyway, you should go get some ice cream and if you don’t want to get bitten by a shark, just don’t go into the ocean with it.

Journey on and do your best!
xo, the mamabrain at mamabrains

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