One day a few years ago, my nieces, the triplets, approached my sister with what seemed to them like a great idea.
“Mom,” they said, “Let’s get a horse.”
“Where would we keep it?” she asked.
“In the backyard,” they chirped.
“The backyard is certainly big enough,” she said. “but who will clean up after it?”
The girls looked puzzled. They had not considered this.
“A horse requires a barn,” my sister said, “and someone to clean the stalls. Who will do that?”
“We will!! We will!!” they assured her.
“You mean like the way you clean your.....”
She didn't have to finish the sentence before the girls rushed off to clean their rooms.
“If you can prove yourselves responsible.....” she called after them.
The moment those words left her tongue, she regretted them.
She had implied a promise and knew that parents should never plant false expectations in the minds of their children. On the other hand, rooms were being cleaned and to that end, a mother of triplets can rationalize almost anything.
But there was something else; another promise lingered in the air. My nieces were not the only children who wanted a horse. Many years ago, my sister had promised herself one.
As a child, she had locked her adult self into a binding contract to deliver a horse. It seemed so simple at the time. As a powerless kid, all she had to say was “When you grow up, remember to get a horse.”
Now she was grown up and couldn't afford one and didn't know who she felt worse for, her daughters or her younger self.
Some promises are easy to keep, others not. As adults some of us are lucky enough to finally make good on the contracts we made as kids. We get the trampoline for the backyard or buy the go-cart. We might even find that special Barbie on eBay.
But it is never the same.
Even when our older self comes through - we rarely experience the joy our child self promised. So we pass the trampoline, the go-cart or the Barbie on to our kids and hope they experience the same joy.
And so it goes.
A week after the triplets came up with the horse idea, they revisited the proposal.
“We cleaned our rooms for a whole week,” they said, “Now can we get a horse?”
My sister had bet they wouldn't last the week and now she had a problem. So in desperation, she turned to God.
“We can’t afford a horse right now,” she said, “so why don’t you pray for one?”
The girls were stunned. Their mother had welshed on her promise and what was worse, she was telling them to go over her head.
“Go on,” she told them, “get praying.”
Having no alternative, they did. They dropped to the carpet and began praying as hard as they could.
Here I interrupt the narrative to interject a commentary. I believe it was Woody Allen who quipped, “The Bible: 4,000 pages and not a single joke.”
If one believes in Woody Allen, they might be tempted to test God. On the other hand, if they believe in God, they would never, ever do what my sister just did.
Less than a minute later, kneeling in the living room, looking out through the picture window, the triplet saw a beautiful brown quarter-horse, gallop wild-eyed into their yard.
“MOM!!,” they cried in unison, “it works!!”
As it turned out, the horse belonged to a distant neighbor who came by later that day with a trailer to fetch his horse - but in the process, he learned that there were a set of triplets nearby who would be delighted to clean his barn and care for his horse when he was away.
If there is a moral to this story, I am not sure what it is; other than to say that things have a strange way of working out... and yes, God does have a sense of humor.
This week's challenge: write about promises.
- Write about the promises we make to ourselves.
- Write about promises we make to others.
- Write about unfulfilled promises.
- Write about promises kept against all odds.
Post your article to Gather Writing Essentials.
BE SURE TO TAG your submission with MWE. Note: I search for articles using the tag "MWE" If you don't tag it right, I will not find it.
- Include "Monday Writing Essential" in your title.
- Try to post by next Monday but don't worry if you don't finish in time. I will be glad to include you post the next week.
Two weeks ago, the writing challenge was to write about loyalty. The challenge drew the following responses:
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