Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: Candid Shots
By Stephanie Bullard
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He gave them a place to live, a home just for them. How did they treat it? Ripped it to shreds, let their junk lying everywhere, then whined about the mess and said it was “too small.” They shoved and jostled each other, pointing fingers and blaming the other for the mess and crowded conditions.
He tried to teach them the value of hard work, but they snubbed that in favor of new-fangled contraptions that made life “easier.”
He wrote them long letters, telling them how much he loved them, reminding them of the wonderful plans he had for them. They ignored this effort, burying their noses in pop-magazines and endless internet sites.
He’d made them a family, told them they were meant to help each other, to protect and lovingly aid one another. Instead, they bickered. Some of them became bullies, pushing the others around, flouting their power and abilities. Some of them fought back and others cowered beneath the “bullying.” Each was certain their way was the best, the only, the “right” way and rather than working together to solve their differences, they chose to fight and squabble.
There were some good times; the times when one child would offer a hand to a fallen brother or sister, or pat another’s back encouragingly. At these times, Dad would simply smile and think maybe they were learning. Maybe they were growing up. But as soon as it started, the kindness would peter out.
Oh, he disciplined them, of course. He did not allow them to run wild without consequences. But with these loving consequences, they would turn on him. They would scream, tell him they hated him. They would ignore him completely, or tell him to stay out of their lives. Any time something went wrong, they would blame him, crying and shouting, shaking their fingers and saying, “How could you?” When things went well, they never even considered him. They would take all the credit, patting their own backs, and refusing to see the part he played. But as soon as they needed something, they would come crying and begging, pleading and making false promises.
They twisted his words to fit their own contexts, justify their actions. Pointing to him, claiming, “He said so; he told me to,” they’d do horrible things.
He said, “I love you.”
They said, “Leave us alone.”
He said, “Let me help you.”
They said, “We don’t need help.”
He said, “Let me tell you…”
They said, “We know already.”
And so Dad sat, grim-faced, watching and wondering if they would ever learn.
And then, one little daughter, with blond hair, blue eyes and two missing teeth, paused as she was getting ready for bed, looked up and said, “I love you.”
With a smile, Dad reached out and touched a star, making it twinkle down at the little daughter;
“I love you, too.”
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