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A Parent's True Desire

A Parent's True Desire

Hello and good day!

I was up on the hill behind my house, cutting grass on the small plateau at the top of the incline. There was a big rock stuck in the ground that I'd been meaning to dig up. Since I was up there already, I turned off the mower and grabbed a shovel.

I thrust the shovel into the dry dirt and stepped on the scoop to sink the shovel deeper into the ground. When I felt the scoop was under the rock, I pushed down on the shovel's shaft handle with all my weight. I pushed and pushed and pushed, but the rock wouldn't budge.

It was heavier than I thought.

I took a break to catch my breath and wipe sweat from my forehead. Then I got back to pushing down on the handle. I didn't realize that my previous pushing had pulled the scoop backwards some and now it wasn't fully lodged under the rock. I began pushing in earnest and round about my fifth attempt, the scoop pulled free.The shovel was now weightless, and I came down on it with my full force.

With no resistance against my push, I lost my balance and fell to the ground. Meanwhile, the scoop catapulted a load of dirt into the air which came down and landed square on my face.

That didn't feel too hot.

I stood up with my eyes closed and tried to wipe away the dirt, inadvertently grounding specs of dust and small pebbles into my eyes. I kept wiping and rubbing and was eventually able to blink away the debris and the stinging.

To reorient myself, I walked over to the side of the plateau where there is a view of the pine forest in front of the lake. The evening sun was low in the sky, and I could just see a flicker of it through the pines. High up the sky was blue and near the horizon there was an orange band. The air was filled with a soft haze because wildfires just broke out north of where we live. I smelled the faint smell of smoke and admired the way the sun made the pine needles shine golden.

Just then, I detected motion out of the corner of my eye, and I turned my gaze from the pines towards our downhill gravel driveway, where my middle son was carrying a bag of trash down to the road. Sometimes you feel a premonition that your child is about to do something they shouldn't do and you'd better watch.

My boy walked down to the street and stopped next to the bin. He isn't much taller than the bin and to throw a bag of trash over the lip requires more than a token effort. He cocked the bag back and swung it up, but the bag didn't go all the way in. Instead, it folded over the side, with part of the bag inside the bin, and the other part hanging down outside the bin.

I watched.

He considered the bag for a moment and when he felt sure it wouldn't fall to the ground, he turned and walked away.

My dad instincts were raging inside me. I wanted to yell out, "put the entire bag in the bin!". But the boy was too far away, and the entire neighborhood would have heard me.

Sure enough, when my son was halfway up the driveway, the garbage bag fell into the street. He didn't hear the bag fall and he walked into the house none the wiser.

I stood there blinking, my eyes filled with sweat and remnants of dirt. I sighed, resigned, and walked slowly down the hill, through our gated fruit garden, down the gravel driveway, to the street. I picked up the garbage bag and put it in the bin.

This whole thing reminded me of a conversation I had with another dad a few days back. He was walking into the grocery store I was standing out in front of with a sign promoting our soft serve ice cream.

"You work at Fortunato Chocolate?" he asked. "I sure do. I'm one of the owners," I said.

"Nice to meet you. We love your stuff. When I bring home the dark chocolate mangos, our house turns into a free for all. My wife and my kids literally attack me when I walk through the door. I'm telling you," he said.

"How many kids do you have?" I asked.

"Two. Twin daughters. My wife works and I am a stay-at-home dad. I'll tell you what, it's been great to watch my girls grow up, but it is hard work taking care of the kids and the house. I'm telling you. Believe me," he said.

"I believe you. How old are your daughters?" I asked.

"They're twelve now," he said. "How are they doing?" I asked. "They're great girls. But they still do one thing that bothers the crap out of me," he said.

This was getting juicy. "What do they do?" I asked.

"They make a mess when they eat. You've never seen anything like it. I'm telling you. I try to explain to them that someday they're going to meet a boy they like, and they'll go over to the boy's house for dinner and the mom will see how they eat, and she'll call off the whole thing. But they don't want to listen," said the dad.

We had a good laugh over that.

"I can relate. Why do you think things like that bother us so much? I mean, they're still kids. Why should it push our buttons?" I asked.

"You know what it is? It's that we know they can do better but they won't. That's it. I'm telling you," he said.

"Whoa dude. You're right. That's pretty deep. We just want them to do the best they can in everything they do. They don't have to be perfect. We just want to know they are honestly trying their best," I said.

He nodded.

"I'm telling you," he said.

We shook hands. He went into the grocery store, and I remained out front with the sign. One of my favorite books of all time is Wooden on Leadership, by coach John Wooden.

He won more college basketball championships than any other coach in history. He says that the whole secret to his success was being able to get his players to live up to their potential. He demanded they always give their best.

My favorite definition of the word love comes from the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Peck writes that love is "the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth."

Spiritual growth in this case means to become fully realized.

When you love somebody, you want to help them become the best person they are capable of being. Since we love our kids, we want them to be their best selves because that gives them the best shot at living a good life.

And part of becoming their best self means giving their best effort across the board.

Note that Peck mentions nurturing one's own spiritual growth. It follows then that self-love means demanding the best of oneself as well.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!






Fortunato No. 4 Chocolate