The Boy and the Pine Forest - One day, his parents drove him several hours outside of the city and the place that he knew as home. They passed by meadows, farms and forests on the way t...
Friday, April 2, 2010
As part of my teen son’s church confirmation celebration, there was a potluck dinner for all the families involved. At the dinner, one parent from each family told the group what made their child so special. My ex-wife / co-parent spoke about our son, and I was struck by one thing she said:
"Our son is the most compassionate member of the family."
That made me chuckle. My son is a good kid, and where children and divorce are concerned, he's especially doing well. But compassionate? Compassion means you genuinely don’t want others to suffer. The Dalai Lama is compassionate. Mother Teresa was compassionate. My first girlfriend post-divorce was compassionate.
But my son? He’s the kid who will eat a King-Sized Hershey bar in front of his sister and me, and not give us a single bite, even if we’re begging for a nibble. He’s the one who will loudly blow his conch shell over and over again while his sister is studying for a final exam. He’s the one who will borrow my tools to build some cool project in the backyard, then leave those tools outside in the rain for a week before I notice they’re missing.
I reminded him of all that, and told him he wasn’t even close to being most compassionate in our family.
“Fine, then who is?” he asked.
“Me,” I said. “I cook for you guys (and not just homemade hamburgers), pay the mortgage, shop for whatever you need.”
“You’re the parent, you’re supposed to do that. So none of that counts.”
“Well, I’m still pretty nice.”
“You tell me to get off the computer when I’m doing homework so you can do a blog post,” he said. “What’s more important – my education or your blog? And you also tell me to stop enjoying my TV show and make me take out the trash, or clean the bathroom. All those things make me suffer. You’re the opposite of compassionate.”
Interesting arguments, I’ll give him that.
“Okay, then your sister is most compassionate,” I said.
“You mean when she puts me in a headlock and gives me a wedgie for no reason at all?”
That sounded pretty harsh, and not very compassionate. I've said before, I'm not raising a princess. But still.
“Are you sure it was for no reason?” I asked.
“Well, I did eat her Toblerone that she’d been saving since Christmas. But she wasn't eating it. And I was hungry, which means I was suffering. If she was compassionate, she would have been fine with me eating it. In fact, she would have given me another!”
All right, so maybe none of us rate as most compassionate. But with creative arguments like that, my son will make one hell of an attorney some day.
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