Good, Bad and Ugly

Tears rolled down my seven-year-old daughter’s cheeks. I looked up from wrapping the toy to beg, “Tammie, please don’t cry. I know you want this toy for yourself, but yesterday when we bought your friend’s birthday present, you knew it wasn’t for you. Besides, you have several of your own Pretty Pony toys in the toy box.”

        A sob caught in Tammie’s throat as she complained, “But, none of mine glow in the dark like this one does.”

        Fastening tape to the pink wrapping paper to hold it in place, I thoughtfully enthused, “This gift is a very, very special gift. It probably will be the best present your friend will get for her birthday this year. Do you know why?”

        My little daughter stopped crying and looked at me in surprise to ask, “Why?”

        “Because the very best gift you can ever give is the one you love and really, really want for yourself. This is especially true when you give the gift without letting anyone know how badly you want it for yourself.”

        Tammie was silent for a few moments before saying, “Okay.”

        “You’re such a good little girl.” I complemented my daughter. “I have a feeling Santa’s going to give you a glow-in-the-dark Pretty Ponies this year.”

        When I first entered motherhood, I had no idea I needed a class titled, Motherhood Philosophy 101. No one gave me a listing of job skills I would need. My initial concern had been merely to share my faith with the children, to keep them fed, bathed, clothed and obedient.

        It turns out that knowing and using philosophy is very necessary in the raising of children. When my children were in grade school, after discussing the various traditions of Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, they asked me, “Mom, how many religions are there in this world?”

        Feeling stressed from a day spent working with difficult personalities, I sardonically answered, “There are probably as many religions as there are people.” Although it was an irreverent response, I sometimes suspect it was close to the truth, since many souls practice a cafeteria style faith.

        When Tammie was eighteen-years-old, Arnie and I took her to vacation in Seattle. The afternoon we visited the Mount Rainier tourist center, she noticed that the crystal of her brand-new watch had been badly scratched. Tammie turned to me to exclaim, “My new watch is ruined! Look at this horrible scratch.”

        Not wanting Tammie to feel bad, I looked around at the flowers growing in the meadow along the path and at the snowy mountain slopes. I suggested, “When you look at your watch and see the scratch, let it remind you of this happy, lovely afternoon.”

        Tammie likes to remind me of the sage advice and ideas I’ve given through the years. A few weeks ago, I irritably complained to my daughter, “Here it is, the middle of December, and there’s rain in the forecast for tonight. There is nothing good about rain during the winter months!”

Tammie agreed, “I hate winter rain, too. The roads end up slick as a skating rink. Our winters would be so much more tolerable if December through February temperatures would stay at a constant 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If it never was warmer than that, it wouldn’t rain. Anything colder than 20 degrees is dangerous.”

“Not to mention expensive.” I grumped. “It costs a lot to heat a house when there’s a stiff wind blowing and the temperature is below zero.”

With a mischievous twinkle in her eye, my daughter asked, “Don’t you tell me that nothing in this world is all bad or all good?”

Giving Tammie a steady look, I agreed, “You’re right. In the case of ice, it can be good, bad or ugly. If it is an ice cube in a drink on a hot day, it’s good. If it is ice that makes cars crash and people fall down, it is bad. And if it is Vanilla Ice, it’s ugly music.


2 thoughts on “Good, Bad and Ugly

  1. So true—we need to see the good even if sometimes to seems to be over-shadowed by some bad! Nice story. I have several of your original stories I clipped from the original ‘shopper’ or what ever it was called. I have been reading ‘you’ for several years. Thanks for writing such ‘sage’ stories.

    • Thank you Dorothy. Hub City Time was called Marshfield Buyers Guide during the 25 years my weekly column was published in it. This fall it will be eight years since I received the email that ended my being published on paper.

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