Scarcely a day goes by that we don't read a story about the sacrifices parents make on behalf of their children. They run the gamut from the mature mother who saw no other way for her daughter to have a compatible bone marrow transplant than for her to conceive a baby and give birth to a sibling . . . to the woman who was nearly trampled to death in New Jersey over the last Cabbage Patch doll.
It's hard to explain why we do it, but we do. We buy cookies from children when we're on a diet, chaperone weekends that add years to our lives, plan our meals around their sports schedules, and sell our blood for the newest Nintendo game.I once worked throughout the night with a flu virus putting together a term paper for my son on "The History of Soybeans." His sixth-grade teacher gave me a C and noted in the margin, "Shows no enthusiasm for topic."
A Los Angeles radio station recently asked parents how far they would go to get their kids free tickets to a New Kids on the Block concert.
Among the finalists were a mother who would suck a dozen raw eggs through a funnel and eat 12 bananas without using her hands, a father who would shave all the hair off his body and dress as a woman, and a couple who vowed they would dodge ice-cream pies while hopping on pogo sticks and ride down Sunset Boulevard on tricycles. If that isn't love, I don't know what it is.
It reminds me of a father who appears in a recent book I wrote on kids surviving cancer. He won a trip for his child to Orlando, Fla., by entering a Jell-O gelatin jump contest. For this he had to jump into 400 gallons of strawberry Jell-O. His son said, "I never thought he'd do that."
I was not surprised. We fall heir to our children's shedding dogs when they go off to college. We store their bicycles and baseball cards. We loan them our new camera and our last dollar. We pick up their rooms and return their library books.
I am writing this as I watch over a dinner that is becoming more inedible with every minute. The kids I am waiting for are playing tennis. They may call at the last minute and say they are going out for pizza.
Why do we do this? It couldn't be the money.