Monday, June 11, 2012

Carrying My Donkey

I hate when someone makes a judgemental comment and it hits home at least a little.  Then I end up thinking about that comment too much.  Worse yet, I start thinking I need to do something about that comment. 

While we were camping, Mike's friend Jack teased us about Nick being spoiled. Yes, he is spoiled, I wanted to say, but he's a nice kid, a good kid.  We've given him a lot of advantages, but we're not talking about an adult here.  We're talking about a kid.  We let him play over the weekend.  After weeks of a hard schedule and a heavy load of school work, he needed untended play time, some time to dig in the sand and not have to move on to the next thing unless he was hungry or tired.  Still, I wanted to point out to Jack that Nick helped get himself packed for the trip and he helped load and unload the truck.  He and I set up the tent when we got to camp while Mike made some stew.  He helped with the dishes for most of the meals when we asked him and he helped pick up trash around camp when it was time to go. He's not exactly a self-reliant kid, but he's a good kid, no more spoiled than Jack's kid, to tell you the truth. 

So why do I need to do anything different? Somehow, I'd feel like an idiot if I never listened to what anyone ever said to me about my life, about my family.  Some advice is good advice.  Still, I can't see living my life according to what everyone else says I should be doing.  Aesop wrote a fable about this.  Do you remember it, the one about the man riding, or walking with, or carrying his donkey?  That's a good fable.  Of all the ancient thinkers, Aesop was the best at putting common sense advice into a form even a child could understand.  So, the one about the donkey means that you'll drive yourself and your donkey crazy if you take the advice of everyone that passes by.  What about listening to friends?

Aesop was something like my Grandpa Roy, I would imagine.  I'd bet he liked to talk, but was a thoughtful and patient man.  I would imagine that he gave good advice, which is how someone probably came upon the idea to write down his stories.  Aesop was a diplomat.  He didn't name names.  Oh, I would guess that everybody coming to him for advice knew who the turtle was and who was the hare.  Still, Aesop made up stories with animals where the offenders should be, where the idiots should be.  I would have liked to have lunch with Aesop. 

If I had come to Aesop for advice, he might have told me about the man who ended up carrying his donkey into the village because of the people who scolded him.  And in the quiet part of my own mind, that part that might sound like my Grandpa Roy's voice, there is Aesop telling me that it would be ridiculous for me to carry my donkey because you can't please everybody.

Our relationship with Nick may appear one way to Mike's friend, Jack, but he would see something entirely different if he could see the whole picture, the very different ways that Mike and I parent, the struggles we've had with Nick's health, and the gifts and challenges of Nick's nature.  People are quick to judge, but slow to really understand. 

And yet, there was that nugget of truth to what Jack said.  Will I be able to pick up that nugget and leave the sand dunes behind?  I don't know.  I hope so.  Mike was asking Nick to pick up some things before he went to bed tonight.  Nick was complaining, but I was relieved that it wasn't me asking for a change.  Maybe Jack's comment will do us some good, will help shift the difference between what Mike and I expect from Nick.  Maybe I can back off a bit if Mike picks up some of the slack.  There is a time when a boy needs to stop getting as much direction from his mother, when his father and other people start taking up the slack. 

There will be the time when the boy will start thinking of the things he needs to do on his own.  We aren't there yet, but Nick is going to begin to do his own thinking, his own planning, and his own implementing.  Oh, this summer is going to be interesting.  I just hope that Nick doesn't go into it kicking and screaming. The summer will be as exciting or as boring as Nick makes it.   Let the summer games begin!

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. I am so with you there, JB.I love my boy and others may say that he is spoilt because I let him play a lot on his play station or computer,I reason with him instead of shouting or scolding...But I think I am just giving him time and space to grow up,I am sure he will be a fine human being and a confident one.There is nothing wrong in giving our kids all the love , we just have to add 'values' with it, that's all!
    He is my only child and I just hope that I am doing right!

    1. Thanks Arti, sometimes I just need to hear that kind of warm advice.