The veteran of many adventures was starting to doubt his decision making process for choosing such a day to take his charges out on a mission. Maybe there was some truth to all the chatter lately? Were others really better suited to perform his duties than he was? Doubt rarely crept into his mind, but with the sun beating down on them all day and no shelter in sight, he was forced to ask himself this question.
“When can we stop for a rest?” asked his partner, a young boy with a sharp head on his shoulders and knack for knowing his surroundings. “I think the rookie needs a break and I’m not sure how much longer I have in me either.”
“I know buddy, I’m working on it,” said the veteran as he scanned the horizon for anything that could provide a much needed break from the searing glare of the sun. Not seeing anything, he next glanced down at the youngest member of his team with concern.
The little guy represented the newest addition to their group and was still providing frequent and difficult challenges to the veteran and his partner who had only known each other’s company for so long. Yet, for as much trouble that he brought to the dynamic, he equally provided laughter, energy, and a certain insight that could not be dismissed or ignored. He was a valuable asset to the team and the group was forever changed for the better with him on board. Everyone silently knew they wouldn’t have it any other way.
But at this moment the leader of the pack had much bigger problems to worry about. Finding shelter and contemplating if he was the best one to lead his team.
Countless times throughout their time together his partner had asked him, “But, how come you do it different?” A question often posed after completing a difficult task.
“It’s just the way I do it,” would be the reply. “There is more than one way to accomplish the same thing, and it being classified as the right way or the wrong way doesn’t matter as long as you are doing what is best for your team and to the best of your ability.”
“I guess. But you still do it different,” was his stubborn reply.
“Do you do everything the same way as the rookie?” the veteran asked.
“No,” said his partner shooting a glance at the rookie with a skeptical look in his eyes, knowing he was being backed into a corner.
“Think about the different ways you two clean up. You, being Mr. Particular, will take out only what you need from your pack and replace those items the minute you are finished with them. Your little understudy, on the other hand, will dump his entire pack out on the ground, use what he needs, and won’t clean up until it’s time to move out.”
“Neither way is wrong, just as neither way is exactly right,” the veteran concluded.
“I think I see your point. We each have our own way because we are different people, but as long as the job gets done in the end and works for the team, that’s what is most important,” the young lad mused as his older partner looked on with pride.
“That’s, uhh, that’s exactly correct,” said the veteran turning away, wiping his eyes.
“Tree!” exclaimed the rookie all of a sudden.
“He’s right Daddy. Look over there, I see the tree too.”
“Well I’ll be,” I said, letting out a sigh of relief. “Your brother has some pretty sharp eyes kiddo. Just like you.”
This post is my take on the “parent wars” currently going on in social media and society at large right now. The recent Time Magazine cover, while ridiculous in its intent, sparked some great posts and great discussions. I like to think the overall takeaway is that this parenting gig is hard enough without someone else telling you that their way is right and yours is wrong. We each do what is best for our families and we do it to the best of our abilities. Nothing less, nothing more.
After the birth of our first son, and just before we left for home from the hospital, one of the doctors said to us, “Feel free to call us if you have any questions, but he will tell you everything you need to know from here on out.”
Those words will stay with me forever. Only you know what is best for your children, take your cues from them and trust your instincts. Be kind and respectful of other parents, because in the end we all need each other.
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 5/19/12.