The Ragtag Daily Prompt word for today is CONCRETE. I’ve probably posted this story before, but the wordplay is so suitable for this prompt. This scene took place somewhere in England, back in the 1950s — when it was still possible to give a child a cuff on the ear for misbehaving.
LOVE THE CHILD
A professional psychologist was constantly admonishing parents to “Love the child.” An expert in his field, the doctor encouraged all his clients and his neighbors as well: “Children need to be shown love and kindness.”
One day the doctor had a new concrete pathway poured in his back yard. A few minutes later he looked out and saw a neighbor boy slopping through the wet concrete. He rushed out, grabbed the boy, and was about to give him a cuff on the ear when a neighbor woman saw what was about to happen. She quickly shouted out her window, “Remember what you always say, Doctor. LOVE the child.”
“To which he replied, “I DO love him, madam — in the abstract. But I DON’T love him in the concrete!”
Merriam-Webster gives these definitions: Turncoat (archaic) One child exchanged for another at birth, (usually a fairy child) Imbecile (archaic) And I’m going to go with the first meaning, though it be rather archaic.
No Changing Allowed!
Sister stamped her foot in fury. “Changeling! Turncoat! Traitor to the cause!”
“I’ve seen the light,” Brother responded. “It’s not an issue.”
“You were on my side before. Now you’re wimping out.”
“Having given the matter serious thought, I’ve realized that one choice is as good as the other.” Brother maintained his calm tone. “It’s no big deal.”
“Ha! If you’d been in Boston before the Tea Party, you’d probably have said ‘It’s no big deal. Let’s just pay the tax and not rock the boat’.”
“It might have saved a war.”
“Heretic!” Sister punched his arm. “And this is a big deal!”
“Everybody raves about how great peace is. ‘NO MORE WAR,’ they say. But soon as they get passionate about some issue, they’re ready to take up arms. Like you now.”
“You must have been switched for my real brother at the hospital. If you were my true brother you’d see things like I do.”
Brother scowled. “Wow! Talk about over-reacting.”
“Somebody needs to remind you of what you said last month when this issue first came up. You’ve done a 180 switch.”
“All I said was, I think we should…”
“But you said just the opposite last month. You agreed with me then. Changeling. Traitor.”
Finally Dad spoke up. “Okay, you two. Rather than fighting about this – ”
“I’m not fighting about it,” Brother protested. “She is.”
“I’m not fighting, either! I’m just saying he can’t change his mind like this. Last month we decided we wanted to do Sea World. Now he’s saying let’s go to Yellowstone.”
Dad laid his hand on her shoulder. “Well, I’ll settle the matter. We’ll visit Yellowstone this summer and Sea World next year. End of the skirmish. And no sniping.”
“Who knows if I’ll even be alive next year? The whole world may lay in ashes!”
Since I’m going to be away from home today, I’ll re-post two short items from my DropBox. Hope you enjoy them.
Stubbornness Doesn’t Pay
Back in 1928 a family had taken a holiday on the Hebrides island of Lewis, in the north of Scotland. Dr MacLeod had brought his family back to the village where he’d been born and they’d visited around amongst various of his friends and relatives. As they were motoring home the children in the back seat got into a discussion that became rather heated. Son Iain, who felt himself in danger of losing the argument got rather huffy about it. After all, he was right! “If no one is going to agree with me, “ he declared, “I’ll get out right now and walk home.”
His words were designed to make the others give in; of course he had no intention of carrying them out. But his father decided the boy needed a lesson, so he stopped the car and silently opened the door. Iain had no choice but to get out and walk back to their village. It was a long, long walk and well after midnight when he finally arrived at his home, exhausted and thoroughly chilled. He found the door unlocked for him, but everyone was in bed and all the lights were out. Quietly he crept into his own bed, scolding himself for his foolish words and attitude.
His parents never mentioned the incident again, but Iain had plenty of time to consider on his long walk and decided that from now on he’d be stubborn only in issues of serious right and wrong, he’d give more consideration to the other fellow’s point of view and recognize that he could be wrong. This lesson stood him in good stead when in later years he became a politician.
(It wouldn’t be safe in the world we have today, but back then it must have been.)
Another Long Walk
A single mother in our community dealt with her son’s problem in a somewhat similar way when he was put off the school bus because he wasn’t “able” to sit still. The driver said he wouldn’t be allowed on the bus again until he could.
She could have made excuses for the boy, she could have said, “He’s ADHD and cant help himself.” But she rather told him the next morning, “Get your coat on; we’re walking to school.”
The two of them set off early and it took them several hours cover the miles to school. That night she was there again. “Are you ready to walk home or are you going to sit down and behave yourself on the bus?”
Yes, he was ready to apologize to the driver and sit still from now on.
This mom felt her son needed to learn respect for authority; when you’re told to sit down and behave yourself there are no excuses. She knew of another lad in that same school, knew that when he defied the authority of his teacher his father, a cop, took his part against the teacher and threatened her with legal action when she tried to rein in his son. That young man, as an adult, had issues with obeying authority and landed up in jail. She didn’t want that to happen to her son.
Janet has a pair of rabbits just as white as winter’s snow which she begged of me to purchase just a week or two ago. She found the man who raised them and she took me over there to show me all his bunnies, at a dollar for a pair, and she pleaded to possess them so I looked at her and said: “Will you promise every morning to make sure that they are fed?”
She promised she would love them and she promised she would see they had lettuce leaves to nibble and were cared for tenderly. And she looked at me astounded when I said, “I should regret buying pretty bunnies for you if to feed them you’d forget. Once there was a little fellow, just about as old as you who forgot to feed the rabbits which he’d owned a week or two.”
“He forgot to feed his rabbits!” said my Janet in dismay. “Yes,” I said, “as I remember, he’d go scampering off to play. And his mother or his daddy later on would go to see if his pretty little bunnies had been cared for properly, and they’d shake their heads in sorrow and remark it seems too bad that rabbits should belong to such a thoughtless little lad.”
“Who was the boy?” she asked me, and the truth to her I told, “A little boy you’ve never seen who now is gray and old. Some folks say you’re just like him,” but she looked at me and said: “I won’t forget my bunnies! I’ll make sure that they are fed!” And she bravely kept her promise for about a week or two, but today I fed the rabbits, as I knew I’d have to do.
Looking for inspiration, I rambled through my STORY files this afternoon and found this mini-fiction scene written ten years ago, in March of 2011. It was my response to my writing group’s challenge of that month: to use the words BROOM, FRIDGE, ALMOND and DOUGHNUT.
Spring fever attacked me full force that morning when my little girl begged me to come out and play. She said she’d baked a cake and we could have tea. Who could resist? I threw my “TO DO” list on the counter for “LATER” and gave myself to the sunshine, the little girl inside, and the little girl outside.
When I arrived at the playhouse she was sculpting her “Tea cake” that looked like a huge mud doughnut. Using her sweater sleeve as a broom, my gracious hostess swept off one of the chairs so I could sit down. I donated two elderly chipped mugs and a plate of real cookies to the celebration.
“I wish I had some nice sprinkles for the icing,” she sighed as she shredded some grass blades and tossed them on the cake. I had to agree: the green shreds weren’t very aesthetic.
“I have an idea,” I said, taking her hand and leading her to our flowering almond shrub. “Just a few,” I said, “for this really special cake.” How many times had I told her she mustn’t pick these blossoms because we wanted to see them blooming on the tree? They made lovely sprinkles.
She poured imaginary tea into the cups, then took a pitcher of “cream” from the cardboard box fridge and added some to the tea. “Would you like sugar, too?” she asked, handing me a bowl of ice melt granules.
“Yes, I’d love some.”
She gave me her biggest smile. “Mom, you should come for tea every day.”
I think of what older ladies have often told me: “Children grow up so fast; enjoy them while you can.”
“Well, maybe I should look over my To-Do list and see if I can fit a tea party in once a week,” I agreed. “If you’ll help me pick up the toys after supper every day.”
Her eyes sparkled as she accepted the challenge. We had a lovely tea party — one I’ll remember a lot longer than the folded laundry, the cleaned cutlery drawer and the emptied dishwasher that I did manage to do in spite of taking time out to play.