What Do You Add To Our World?
It goes like this, ‘bend the tree from it is small.’
“Why do you hate your only grandchild?” Andrew, Josie’s son-in-law, asked her on one of her regular weekend visits to babysit and spend time with Amelia, her four-year-old granddaughter.
Josie and her youngest daughter Amy’s eyes clasped in unison, laced with anger, glaring at Andrew.
Amy quickly defends, “My mom don. . .. .”
Josie grabs her daughter’s hand from the armchair beside her, pulling it, then said quickly, “Why do you say that?”
Avoiding his wife’s stare of audacity, he confesses, “You are always so rough on her.”
Still, grasping her daughter’s hand to silence her, Josie asks, “So discipline is now the new hatred?”
“But she is only a child, a baby. She is only four years old,” he complains, snickering, swaying his head at his wife and her mother, yet avoiding eye contact.
“So, because she is so small, she must not be taught the difference between right and wrong,” Josie asks, still grasping Amy’s hand.
“Every weekend you come to visit, she jumps from being a happy four-year-old baby girl who enjoys having fun, to an obedient no-fun adult,” he maintains.
“So obedience means boredom to you?”
“No, no,” he discloses, furling and unfurling his brows in annoyance, “I think you should ease up on her. Let her be a child. She has the rest of her life to obey rules.”
Sighing, in an attempt to subdue her anger, Josie asks, “At what age do you think children should know the difference between good and evil?”
“When they are old enough to understand what they are,” was his response.
“How old were you when you found out?”
“When I was sixteen years old,” he said, a faraway look in his eyes.
“Was that before or after you were sent to Juvenile Hall?”
His eyes exploded in shock, and Josie covered it with, “Do you really think I would have allowed my daughter to marry you without checking your background?”
Amy whispered, apologetically, “I was going to tell you, mom.”
Silence roared on as he releases eye contact, then reveals, “I was a slow learner, then. Life forced me to grow up faster.”
“I know you have learned your lesson. But is that what you want for my grandchild. Life to force her to grow up quickly?”
“I . . .I,” he stammered for a while, standing up, staring Josie down with rage, then releases with a sigh, “I just want her to be a four-year-old child.”
“Discipline won’t stop her from being a child,” Josie states. “But indiscipline will. You are her first example.”
“Damn!” he said under his breath.
Josie pretend she didn’t hear his remark and continues, “What qualities did you admire most about my daughter the first time you saw her?”
He thought for a second, then reveals unwillingly, “How she was dressed and carried herself.”
“And how did she do that?”
“With dignity and pride. Her personality says, ‘I know myself. I don’t have to pretend to be someone else.’ Her actions displayed self-confidence. It shone through her speech and mannerism.”
“You got all of that by just one look?” Josie had to ask in awe.
“Well, that was the look that lured me to her. So I decided to find out more,” he said, glancing in Amy’s direction as Josie release her grasp on her daughter’s hand.
“And more than ten years later, you are still pleased with what you find out?”
“Yes,” he agrees.
“How did discipline and hatred arrived on the same street?”
“Well,” he attempts to explain. “If you continue to be so strict on her, she will grow up to hate you.”
Eyeing her daughter as her anger slowly defuse, Josie asks, “Should I tell him, or should you?”
With a victory smile, Amy applauds, “Make it a home run for our team, mom.”
Nodding in agreement, Josie went on, “In my culture, we have a saying when it comes to discipline and children. It goes like this, ‘bend the tree from it is small.’ It means that when children are taught and practiced respect, obedience, discipline, and other qualities from a young age, it will grow with them, allowing them to live a good life. They will become a part of the solutions our world needs. Not a part of the problems that are contributing to the pain and suffering we see daily. They will add positive values, ideas, solutions, and hope to a chaotic and hopeless world.”
He stared at her in awe and confessed, “I never thought of it that way.”
“I know,” Josie agrees. “This is your first child. I have raised three children. At my granddaughter’s age, her brain is open to learning. Now is the best time to put all of the good things in. Plus, this is how I started with your wife,” she alerts, eyeing her daughter, who smiles, reaching out to squeeze her mother’s hands in appreciation.
With his head at his feet, he said, “I am sorry, my world was a different one.”
“I know,” Josie said. “And I would rather she grow with discipline, good qualities, ethics, morals, values and have a good life, but hate me. Than no discipline with a painful life, but loves me. The ones raised without penalty add chaos to our world and the lives of everyone they touched. What do you want my grandchild to add to our world?”
Discipline and indiscipline contribute something to our world. Which one do you add?
Thank you for reading this piece. I hope you enjoyed it.