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The legacy we leave to our kids
By Bob Robinson

Remember Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darndest Things”? I thought the comments were hilarious… or maybe it was just the looks Linkletter panned for the camera. Don’t know… I just know I laughed a lot.

The show has been gone for decades; it’s been replaced by Internet offerings from dozens of different sources. I checked some of them out. Hmm… With only a few exceptions they just didn’t seem that funny any more.

Is it because I’m old, or is it because this is a different era? Or both? Different things make people laugh today… I’ve been a substitute teacher for several years and, yes, kids still sometimes say the “darndest” things. Very few, however, have been “funny.” In fact, some of them have been downright heartbreaking.

Add to that, some of the things kids have said in our Empowering Darke County Youth After School Program. There was a girl, for instance, who was only in the program a couple weeks before she and her siblings left school and moved to another part of the state.

She was a “tough” kid; made a point of saying she didn’t care whether she got her work done or not. Hadn’t been doing it before, so why start now? I couldn’t help but wonder why she was there. I asked if anyone was at home to help or encourage her… Dad? “He hits me, he can’t see us anymore.” Mom? “She’s in jail.” No drama. Just “matter of fact.” Almost as if she thought it was no big deal.

Isn’t that what it’s like for everyone?

I remind myself of the funny or heartwarming stuff, like the kindergartner who said she was going to marry me when she got big, or the first grader who asked me if I was pregnant (referring to my belly, of course; he had a huge grin on his face). And I see so many parents who are really concerned about their kids… sometimes I thank them for their concern. And sometimes I get a strange look…

Isn’t that what it’s like for everyone?

I think about these things a lot. I think about my own boys… did I show enough support and concern for them? Was I there enough when I should have been? I hoped so. Like any other family at the time, we had our ups and downs. One son became a salesman, was quite good at it. The other followed my footsteps in the print graphics field and currently manages the department for a major printing company out west.

Still I wondered. What legacy have I left for my kids?

Almost as if he was reading my mind, my son “out west” sent me a message. He threw a ‘memory’ at me about which I’d had no clue. He’d sent me the lyrics of a song I used to play when I was a “folk singer” in the 60s and 70s…

“I spent some time looking up the songs you used to sing and play 'live' on guitar,” he said. “Usually at family get togethers. I remember your passion for the music... and how happy you were when playing it. Thank you for those times, dad. Irreplaceable memories for me.”

They were happy times. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed “singing and playing” my folk songs, and yes, we did it often. But like most clueless adults, it never occurred to me that I was creating a “legacy” that would stay with my son for almost 40 years.

As adults we have no clue – not really, anyway – what is going to ‘stick’ with our children and what isn’t. Makes me wonder… I guess I’m a little too late to worry about a “legacy” to my kids. Good or bad, I’ve done it. Thankfully, at least in one area, I got lucky. It was good.

I’m grateful for that.

What about today’s kids? Have you thought about the legacy you will be leaving to yours?

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