Friday, January 31, 2014

I'm Sorry

I don't know about you but I've found myself apologizing to my children way more often than I'd like to.  Whenever I am convicted to apologize to my kids I always remember a specific story that my father use to tell me.  I use to think this story was about my dad and his father.  But apparently it was about a family friend.  It's interesting how as a kid the story that formed in my head has stuck with me even into adulthood and it has effected my parenting style.  Family stories are important.  My father and his brothers are storytellers.  I have learned so much from them and their stories.  This story is the essence of the lesson I learned from the story they told to me.  Thanks, Dad, for letting me share this important story about a father who loves his child and finds a way to make right a wrong.  That is a lesson all parents need to make peace with.

I’m Sorry
By Kristen S. Sandoz

A handsome, dark haired, deep eyed boy ran frantically into his family’s farm house.  “Father!  Father!” he yelled.

His father’s looming figured darkened the door way to the kitchen scanning the boys muddy clothes.

“The cows were supposed to be in the barn an hour ago.”  He said in a quiet sort of growl.

“But father, I…” the boy began.

“I don’t want excuses boy.  I want obedience.  Now come here.”  His eyes were foreboding and his face was hard as he began to remove his belt.

“Father, please, the cow…” the boy tried again.

“Now!” barked his father.

The boy knew there was no arguing, it would only make it worse.  He stepped forward and took his whipping as bravely as any seven year old boy could have.  Then he climbed the stairs to his room, where he would spend the rest of the evening without supper.  Through his window he watched his father head out toward the pasture to finish his job.  A light rain began to fall, but no tears fell down the boy’s solemn face.  His job was to bring in the cows and he had failed. 

The father was in a dark mood.  He was not a tall man but he was broad and muscular like a tree trunk.   He had lived a hard life leaving home when he was fifteen to work on a logging crew.  Even so, whipping his children was not his favorite task and yet, it was necessary.  With four daughters, only one son, and twins on the way there was little room for lack of discipline.  On a small family farm everyone had to pitch in to make a living.  Seven year old boys had to learn to carry their load.

He stormed passed the barn and headed down the hill to the lower pasture.  He could see some of

the cows grazing near the creek at the bottom of the hill.  Bringing the cows in from pasture was
really a simple job.  A job even a seven year old could do.  Usually, they’d come with little encouragement knowing a warm barn and food were waiting for them.  Today they were reluctant to move along.  The father gently cooed them forward as he walked behind them toward the creek trying to scoop them a little closer together.

That’s when he heard it, a strange heavy panting coming from the creek.  He walked to the bank and peered down.   He caught his breath.  One of the cows had fallen into the creek and couldn’t get up.  Its head was barely above the water line and the cow was in a panic.  Signs of a struggle were all about.  Mud along the bank had been matted down.  Branches from the tree close by were broken.  It was clear the cow would drown if something wasn’t done immediately. 

The man clambered down the bank and rested a hand on the cow’s hind quarters and spoke soothingly to it.  He reached her head and even his toughened heart sank to his stomach at what he found.  He knew instantly it was the boy and all the pieces fell together, why he was late, his muddy clothes, the frantic look, the back talking.  The boy had done his job or at least he had tried.  He had come upon the same cow in the creek and did his best at trying to help the cow up.  But her 2,000 lbs was too much for his small seven year old frame.  Somehow the boy knew if he left the cow alone even for a couple of minutes to get help that she would die.  So he formed and executed an ingenious plan.  The boy found a sturdy branch on the tree with a “Y” in it.  He broke the branch off at just the right length.  He shoved the end into the mud under the cows head and placed the “Y” under her neck lifting her head out of the water just enough for her to breath.  Then he ran. 

After an hour or so the boy watched his father through his bedroom window walk slowly back to the house.  Did his father find the cow?  Did his plan work or was it too late?  He heard the farm house door creek open and slam shut.  He heard is father’s deep low voice saying something indistinguishable to his mother in the kitchen.  Then he heard his father’s heavy plodding footsteps climb the farm house stairs.  The boy turned to the bedroom door and froze.  Something was wrong.  His father never came upstairs.  He stood motionless and watched with Jersey sized dark brown eyes as his bedroom door opened.  His father stepped into the room an unreadable look upon his face.  Without any words his father stepped forward grabbed the boy by the arm and lifted him onto his shoulders. 

It was at least a mile walk into town but the father tirelessly carried his son all the way stopping only to buy his son an ice cream cone before heading back to the farm in the same manner.  Although no words were spoken the boy knew what his father meant.  He knew his father had found the cow and that it was because of his seven year old plan that she was still alive.  The boy felt happy.  He had done his job and his father was proud of him.  He knew, too, that this was his stern yet loving father’s way of saying what he did not have the words to say, “I’m sorry”. 

I wonder what family stories have effected your life?  Please share.  I'd love to hear about them.  Then share them with the Littles in your life.

Happy Tales!


Friday, January 24, 2014

The Important Truth about 2014

A new year is well on it's way!  I am so excited to be in 2014.  This year I want to laugh more with my boys, get fit by working out, write more consistently, and speak about story telling.  These sound simple enough but, the truth is, when I think about what I have to do to make them happen, I am terrified!  Voices plague me:  You can't write.  No one wants to hear what you have to say.  You're not a warm fuzzy mom.  You are lazy.  You don't have time.  Your body is too far gone.  Your spelling makes you look incompetent.  You aren't fun or entertaining.  Maybe deep down there is something wrong with you. 

The past is really what haunts me.  As a storyteller every time someone finds a mistake in my writing my chest seizes up and a black hole sucks me back in time to my childhood where some teacher is correcting me in front of the whole class and I am once again stupid and incapable.   I remember how my sister was the writer, the funny one, the entertainer, the educator.  As a mother I see all my past shortcomings.  I replay all the things I regret like my own personal horror movie on a repeating tract.

But this is a new year and in 2014 I am going to work hard to remind myself that the past does not dictate my future.  I need to speak the truth to myself.  Here are some of the truths I choose to remember this year.   I do not have to be a “good writer” to be a good storyteller.  I wanted to document my stories for my boys that's why I started this blog.  Every day they are growing older and I find that I am racing against time to share what is in my heart with their hearts before it is too late.   My boys are the reason I tell stories.  They are why I have decided to put my flawed writing into cyber space for any to see.  My boys do not care if my spelling and grammar is less than impeccable, but they will care if they never hear the end of the Justly Story.  So I post for them.  That is the important truth.

The truth is my storytelling gives me connection with my boys.  Even on the worst day if I tuck my boys into bed and tell or read them a story then, at least, the last thing I did with them was something positive.  We  just might even laugh, have a deeper conversation, or come to some reconciliation.  I know this because it has happened before.  I will focus on my strengths as a mother and my boys will know that I love them.  That is the important truth.
The truth is there are others out there like myself who think they can’t tell stories to their children because they are not a writer or a storyteller.  It is my hope they will find that the benefits far out weigh the risks.  Storytelling has, in many ways, saved my relationship with my boys.  It has been a balm of healing, a tie that binds, and a bridge for deeper connection with them.  This year refuse to let voices from the past keep you from enjoying those benefits.  That is the important truth.

If you enjoy reading the stories I write for my boys that is an added blessing to me.  I hope you can see my spelling and grammar errors as my willingness to be vulnerable and share my humanity with you and my children.  I hope it inspires you this year to reach out and tell your own stories to your children.  You might be surprised by the important truth you discover.

Happy Tales!