Habit of finding fault. 12.7.11

by Aaron K.

From Evernote:

Habit of finding fault. 12.7.11

"Listen, son:

I am saying this as you lie asleep,

one little paw crumpled under your cheek and

the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead.

I have stolen into your room alone.

Just a few minutes ago,

as I sat reading my paper in the library,

a stifling wave of remorse swept over me.

Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking,

son: I had been cross to you.

I scolded you as you were dressing for school

because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel.

I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes.

I called out angrily

when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too.

You spilled things.

You gulped down your food.

You put your elbows on the table.

You spread butter too thick on your bread.

And as you started off to play

and I made for my train,

you turned and waved a hand

and called, ‘Goodbye, Daddy!’

and I frowned, and said in reply,

‘Hold your shoulders back!’

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon.

As I came up the road I spied you,

down on your knees, playing marbles.

There were holes in your stockings.

I humiliated you before your boyfriends

by marching you ahead of me to the house.

Stockings were expensive –

and if you had to buy them you would be more careful!

Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember,

later, when I was reading in the library,

how you came in timidly,

with a sort of hurt look in your eyes?

When I glanced up over my paper,

impatient at the interruption,

you hesitated at the door.

‘What is it you want?’ I snapped.

You said nothing,

but ran across in one tempestuous plunge,

and threw your arms around my neck

and kissed me,

and your small arms tightened

with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart

and which even neglect could not wither.

And then you were gone,

pattering up the stairs.

Well, son,

it was shortly afterwards

that my paper slipped from my hands

and a terrible sickening fear came over me.

What has habit been doing to me?

The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding

– this was my reward to you for being a boy.

It was not that I did not love you;

it was that I expected too much of youth.

I was measuring you

by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine

and true in your character.

The little heart of you

was as big as the dawn itself

over the wide hills.

This was shown by your spontaneous impulse

to rush in and kiss me good night.

Nothing else matters tonight, son.

I have come to your bedside in the darkness,

and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement;

I know you would not understand these things

if I told them to you during your waking hours.

But tomorrow

I will be a real daddy!

I will chum with you,

and suffer when you suffer,

and laugh when you laugh.

I will bite my tongue

when impatient words come.

I will keep saying as if it were a ritual:

‘He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!’

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man.

Yet as I see you now, son,

crumpled and weary in your cot,

I see that you are still a baby.

Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms,

your head on her shoulder.

I have asked too much, too much." -Father Forgets by Livingston Larned (Excerpt from discussion on relationships and people)

The habit of finding fault in others, whether in speech or thought, is destructive when it comes to human relationships. The example spoken of the boy and his father, shows this truth so clearly because of the clear gap between the sons youthful innocence and the fathers overreaching expectations. The hurtfullness felt by the son and guilt experienced by the father in the narrative above, should not soften as we relate with others who are grown up; for finding fault and criticizing others functions much the same. Action. My sons, in life work hard to be at peace with all men for it is your pride that fuels finding fault in others. With the same gentle heart and spirit of the father above, seek to support and encourage always in all human interaction, whether its your children or others; managing your expectations while seeking to see things from their perspective.

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