Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ENVY (jealousy of another’s advantage) (02/12/15)
- TITLE: Sacrificing the Greener Grass
By Marlene Bonney
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“But, Mommy, I could save up my allowance for a dog,” I would plead, “and Billy would help me take care of it.”
“Nancy, your allowance could not cover the vet, the shots, and the dog food. We just cannot afford a pet.”
“But Julie, next door, and even my other friends have pets,” I would whine.
“Yes, and those mothers and fathers BOTH work outside the home.”
I wasn’t going to touch THAT one with a 10-foot pole, my parents constantly sacrificing material things so that Mom could be the one to raise us.
It wasn’t long before other issues, like pesky flies, cropped up. If it wasn’t about extra-curricular sports for the boys or baton or ballet classes I wanted, the conversations were the same. We simply could not afford the “extras,” which also included summer camp or band trips.
“But, Dad, it’s just not fair! Why should other kids have stuff we can’t?”
“Life is not fair,” he would retort.
Then there was the ‘Sunday’ argument.
“But, Mom, all the kids hang out at the Mall on Sunday!”
“Honey, you know the answer. Sunday is God’s special day for us to rest and to be separate from worldly pursuits. We worship Him and spend time together as a family.”
Julie’s parents both worked and she was the luckiest girl on our block. She had a cute white poodle decked out with pink ribbons. She had expensive, name-brand clothes that were all the rage. She had gymnastic classes, swimming lessons, and the latest dolls on the market. She went to the movies every week and even bought popcorn and soda and candy there! Julie’s younger brother, Bobby, hung out with my little brother, Billy, and it was the same thing. Bobby was at the arcades all the time, joined all the after-school sports clubs and had the most popular brand-name tennis shoes. He had the coolest 10-speed bike and freedom to ride it wherever he wanted. And, they got to go on exciting vacations and summer and band camps. They were the luckiest kids we knew, and they didn’t deserve it.
If only I had Superman’s super-sonic hearing back then, I would have heard a different side of the story. . .
“But, Mom, Nancy’s mother goes to her classroom and volunteers in the school library and helps with the PTA fund-raisers and everything!”
“Julie, you just don’t appreciate all the extras you get from me being in the workforce. I’m too tired after my 12-hour shift to go to those events, let alone participate in them.”
Julie would unlock her back door after school. No adult greeted her or asked her about her day at school. There was no aroma of freshly baked cookies or cheery greetings in the air. There was only silence and the usual notes on the kitchen counter: ‘Julie, put chicken in oven.’ ‘Don’t forget to feed the dog.’ ‘I have to work late tonight. Dad will drop you off at soccer practice, Bobby.' ‘Remind your father to pick up your leotard at the dry cleaners—I probably won’t see you before bedtime because I’m also going to the gym.’
“Life isn’t fair,” Julie muttered, “Nancy is so lucky—and she doesn’t even appreciate it.”
In later years, Bobby and Julie’s college educations were all paid for. They were often “in trouble,” their moral compasses without needles. Billy and I worked during summer vacations and earned academic scholarships and had campus jobs to support ourselves.
I saw Julie at a Class Reunion not long ago, a superficial shell of a woman in a designer dress, perfect hourglass figure and stylish hairdo. Like a telescope working backwards into history, I saw the two little girls wasting what they had in the face of discontent. Thankfully, I had grown out of that phase of childishness. Julie was still unsatisfied with her life and wanted more.
“So, Nancy, do you still go to church? I was thinking, maybe I could go with you sometime?. . .”
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