Monday, 15 November 2010

Carrying the Donkey

I've been thinking a lot lately about how other people perceive me, especially regarding how I parent Alice. I think about it far too much and sometimes worrying about what people will think affects my actions. I was reminded recently of a folk tale I read once as a child. I can't find the book it was in, nor can I find it on-line, so I thought I'd write it down as best as I can remember it. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

One day a man decided he and his son should travel the long journey to the markets. They took their donkey to carry their supplies home and set off. The father got up on the donkey and the son led it along the road. It wasn't long before they met a traveller coming the other way. The traveller looked at them in disgust. "How shameful. That poor boy is being forced to walk, while you his father are taking it easy riding on the donkey." In great embarrassment, the father quickly got down from the donkey.
"Of course, you're right. I'll let my son ride instead. I don't know what I was thinking!" he exclaimed, and they carried on their way.

Soon after they were met by an old woman walking along the road. She looked them up and down and tutted. "The young have no respect. That boy is full of energy, but is making his poor father walk while he rides the donkey. Surely there's room on that donkey for two." As she passed them by, father and son looked at each other, and the father said "she's right. The donkey could manage us both. Let me ride with you." and he got up on the donkey too.

As they neared the market another traveller met them with wide eyed horror. "Good heavens! That poor beast's legs must be nearly buckling under the weight of you two! The cruelty some people show to animals is astonishing."

Without saying a word, father and son got off the donkey, hoisted it onto their shoulders and carried it all the way to the market. Everyone in the busy town square pointed and laughed at their foolishness.

Sometimes I think I end up carrying the donkey as I desperately try to please all the people all the time. This little tale has been a reminder to me to do what I feel is right, not what other people think I should do.

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