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Parents, teach your children... [Aug. 6th, 2008|09:26 am]
I don't have/am not going to have children and frankly, haven't regretted it for a second, except in some vague science experiment-how-would-they-turn-out kind of way.

But I'm surrounded by people who have and who worry, from time to time, about whether they're good enough parents. Okay, for starters, the fact that you're worrying about it probably means you're in the top 20%.

And you're going to worry about whether you sent them to the right school, got them the right lessons, took them to the right places, said and did the right kind of thing. And I can attest that no matter what you do, some small thing that you won't even THINK about at the time will be the moment that shapes or scars them for better or for worse. And really, all you can do is keep trying and doing your best. Hey, YOU turned out okay, more or less...

I saw two this past weekend that warmed even my cold hard heart.

The first was in the local Italian deli. Which is redundant if you're from my part of Connecticut. It's family owned. The grandfather, the son, the grandson. Plus Nonna, and Mama and the wives/sisters. And while I was waiting in line to purchase my six kielbasa rings (don't even get me started on my "why is it not possible to buy a decent kielbasa in the nation's capitol" rant) and there's Grandfather, patiently teaching one of the family's children, a boy about six, how to stock the bananas. How you open the box, how you have to lift them out, checking them for bruises, putting them on the display, breaking down the box...

A silly, simple thing, but with patience and care. A little too early to know if this is the heir to the Deli, but really it seemed less about that, than about taking care and pride when doing things. (okay, and keeping him out from underfoot of Mom and Dad who were working, but that's a given with kids) And if this kid grows up to be a lawyer or steelworker or whatever, maybe he won't remember it at all. Maybe he'll remember that you've got to be careful with bananas. Surely he'll remember that Grandpa loved him enough to teach him how to do things. I think I might actually remember how to catch and prepare a Bluegill. But mostly I remember that my grandfather would sit for hours next to a six year old, patiently threading worms, detaching little bluegills, showing me how it was done.

And an entry in the 4-H fair in the woodworking division. A homemade stable, to this Breyer Horse Model collector's eye, clearly built to house those very same models. And homely. My goodness. Barely a straightedge involved and not finished very well and overall NOT a project built by someone who's good at working with wood. But a little handlettered sign next to it read "This is my horse stable. I wanted the Breyer horse stable, but my Dad said it costed too much, so he would help me build one myself. So he helped me cut and measure and build it. My horses are very happy with it. And I LOVE IT!

The worn places on the wood where stable doors had been opened and closed, opened and closed, the worn pathways where plastic horse hooves had scraped at the wood were a testament to how much he/she loved it. The blue ribbon it wore was a testament to the love -- both kinds. `

From: kudrasslipper
2008-08-06 04:04 pm (UTC)
ok - the question is: am I tearing up like a big baby because I'm a mom? Or because I'm a total horse geek with two home-made stables for my collection of Breyer horses?!?!?

Oy. pathetic!
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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2008-08-06 04:08 pm (UTC)
And you decided not to be a writer because???????
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[User Picture]From: ferlonda
2008-08-06 05:13 pm (UTC)
I have tears in my eyes, too- and I'm not a parent and all my horses (who were all pastured and never had more than a lean-to shaped suspiciously like a book) are either in storage or given away to worthy kids.

It is exactly these sorts of things that make good families. Thank you for this. You'd have made a terrific mom and you are a great writer.

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