NOTE: This was written for broadcast and reflects the thoughts of James Parker.
BULLARD, Texas (KETK) – Like thousands of kids in East Texas, a couple of my kids are in band at school. Like thousands of parents across East Texas, the Band Boosters has a concession stand that needs my help.
My wife and I have a deal: She goes to the meetings, I do the work. So wifey goes to the Band Booster meeting, and volunteers me to work the concession stand… the first football game of the season… in 106 degree weather.
When I was leaving earlier than the rest of my wife and four kids, my third kid – he’s 10 and not even in band yet – heard I was going to work at the concession stand. He asked if he could work with me. I explained to him that this isn’t a paying gig, this is volunteer work. He’s not going to be able to sit around eating pizza and candy, and he still wanted to join me.
And so it went, my 10-year-old fetched soft drinks in brutal heat. After halftime, I told my son that his obligation has been fulfilled, and he was free to go play with his friends or hang out with our extended family in the bleachers.
He decided that he was going to work as long as his dad was still working. By the time my son and I left our fellow Band Boosters stand, something small but great happened: I told him I was proud of him for working so hard in the stand for no reward to help a bunch of band kids who will never even know of his sacrifice. He told me: thanks for letting him do it.
We complain about the next generation a lot. We complain how they are spoiled, lazy, entitled, whiney and depressed. I’m sure for many of these kids, that’s true, but perhaps some of that could be avoided.
When my 10-year-old joins band next year, he will have an understanding of how hard it was to raise the money to buy all of those instruments. He will probably be more careful with them. He will appreciate the effort that went into the uniforms, the gas money and the bus trips in a way that most of the kids won’t even think about. He will also see a crowd of parents who are so enthusiastic about their kids band experience that they’ve been busting their butts and sweating out every concessions stand shift in order to make this happen. He will appreciate them.
If you’re concerned you may be raising kids that are ungrateful, entitled, lazy and unengaged… make them work for it. Charity isn’t something we’re supposed to do because we got guilted into it, and being charitable isn’t good simply because Jesus told you to do it. Charity is a necessity built into the human condition. If you’re feeling empty inside, do something positive for someone else for no compensation or recognition. You’ll probably feel better.
And if you can’t find a worthy cause immediately, you can work with me next Friday. It went so well for my son that my daughter wants to go next week. Lucky for me, this week is an away game. To the folks of Quinlan coming to see Ford play Bullard, we’ve got Chick-fil-A sandwiches on the visitors’ side. Come see me.