Were You Born in a Barn?
I doubt it. These words are stuck in my head from my early childhood. There are things my parents said to us over and over and over again– things I hated to hear. Things I swore I would never say to my own kids if that day came. What does it even mean to be born in a barn? Then, years later, one of our kids ran out of the house without shutting the door, and it happened. Yes, those words came out of my mouth. Thank goodness I had great parents.
Great parenting also led to these words sticking in my head: "Always leave things better than you found them." My parents were role models for this. No matter where we went or who we visited, prior to leaving, we needed to pick-up. Anything that we had used or touched during our time there needed to be put back where it belonged. Parents did it too. Things like doing dishes, wiping crumbs, or even just pushing in a chair.
Always leave things better than you found them– what a great philosophy to embrace. I found that as a school teacher, embracing this philosophy can lead to frustration. Example 1: Teacher drives a bus, kids get off, and there's trash left all over the bus. Example 2: Teacher dismisses class and there is a mess up and down the aisles. When I first confronted students on this, some would respond, “The janitors will pick it up,” or "Someone else will take care of it." No, it’s a way of life; leave things better than the way you found them. I always made sure to explain to students why we were going to leave things better. It's about respect; respecting and taking care of what you have. If we all did our part, this world would be a much better place for ourselves and future generations. That was the expectation we had as a team and class. After that, I rarely picked up stuff in the classroom or on the bus.
As time has passed, I am realizing how the philosophy of leaving things better than you found them has impacted my life. I think those repeated words had a lot to do with my career choice. As the years have passed, I've tried to work on my character. Now that I’m in the 4th quarter of my life, I hope I have done something to leave the world better than I found it. Thanks mom and dad for repeating those irritating bits of life wisdom all those years ago. I hope most of you have had great parenting like that. It will stick with you and make you better in the end.