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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eating Cherries

Sword and I went out in the front yard after Bow went to sleep last night, and we picked cherries. There are still plenty of cherries left on the tree. We have two cherry trees. The first one has ripened fruit, and the second is still ripening. "These cherries look almost as good as the ones at Wal-Mart," my daughter remarked.

The truth is that they taste better than commercial grade cherries, but they look worse. Each has its own individual look. No two are the same. Cherries in the store look like clones of each other.

This morning at breakfast, Bow had grapes, cherries and a little milk. In that order.

When Bow was very young, I used to cut the pits out of his cherries. When he was older, I made a deal with him: "I'll hand you a cherry, you give me back the pit, then I'll give you another cherry." Bow wanted to test how solid the deal was, so the first cherry I gave him, he swallowed the pit. "No more cherries,"  I said. The next time I served him cherries, he had learned his lesson, so every time he finished one cherry, he would hand me the pit, and I would give him the next cherry. But when it came to the very last cherry, he gave back no pit. He had a big grin plastered on his face, as if he had double-crossed me and gotten the better end of the deal!

This is typical of Bow's ethics. He doesn't keep a promise because he feels it is the right thing to do. He keeps it, only so long as he thinks he has something to gain. This morning, he had something to gain. First he asked for the grapes. When he had finished the grapes, he returned the stems to me, and he asked for the cherries. We went through the whole rigmarole of one cherry, one pit.  He gave me the very last pit. Then he asked for milk. If he hadn't wanted the milk, he'd have swallowed the last pit!

What does it matter if he swallows the pits? Well, it really doesn't matter, in terms of his digestion, but as long as I have to dispose of everything that comes out the other end, I get to monitor what goes in. When he is self-sufficient, he can eat the pits, and I won't care.

There is another reason I persist with this exercise. I am monitoring his moral and emotional growth, too. Maybe, someday, he will want to keep his word just because, and not because he has something to gain. If that day ever comes, it will be just as big a milestone as the day he began to spell out words!

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