The Parable of the Puddle

This semester, since Denisa’s had class every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I’ve had kid-getting-on-the-bus duty. It’s much more stressful than you’d figure. On a typical work day, I head in early, and I have some peaceful quiet hours before the students arrive–time when I can gather my thoughts and really get ready for the day. When I’m getting the kids ready? Chaos, between getting the lunches set, making sure breakfast is eaten, teeth are brushed, snow clothes are on, MC is fed and changed, bags are packed, homework is done–and there’s a hard deadline to boot? Yeah. Quite a bit different, especially when you’re not in practice.

But I digress.

This morning once I’d gotten the kids out the door and we were waiting for the bus, DC and TRC were bemoaning the rain and what it had done to our snow. (Still a fair bit of snow, but not nearly as much as there ought to be. I want my winter!) But then DC saw it: big and tempting and right there in the middle of the driveway.

A puddle.

“Oooooh!” she said, her eyes brightening. “A puddle.”

“Right,” I said. “Don’t jump in it.”

Her shoulders slumped. “Why not?”

Do I really need to answer that? “Because it’s cold out, and you’re wearing snow pants. If you jump in the puddle, you’re going to be soaked for the rest of the day, and we don’t have time to get you into dry clothes.”

She nodded in agreement. Hard to argue with logic like that. But both she and TRC kept finding themselves back at the edge of that puddle, as if the thing had its own gravitational pull. We’d be down on the other end of the driveway, and yet somehow their eyes would keep drifting back to it.

“Don’t jump in the puddle,” I reminded them.

They both nodded, content for the moment to put the tips of their boots into the puddle and dream of how awesome it would be to jump into it.

“I mean it,” I added. Just in case they couldn’t tell by the tone of my voice.

Meanwhile, I’m walking up and down the driveway, trying to get a bit of steps in while I’m carrying MC. Multitasking for the win, baby.

“TRC!” DC cries out while my back is turned. “Don’t!”

“Dad said don’t jump in the puddle.” TRC’s voice is full of confidence. He’s found the loophole and is on firm legal ground.

I turn around to see him standing in the puddle. Good thing those boots are waterproof.

Time to change the contract. “Don’t go in the puddle or anywhere near the puddle.”

TRC obeyed, and it wasn’t too much longer before the bus came and the puddle was forgotten. But the experience has stuck with me, mainly because I think there’s a lot to be learned about myself in that. How many times do I do things that I know are a bad idea? Things other people have counseled me against–and I do them anyway. “Don’t stay up late tonight, Bryce.” “Don’t eat all the brownies, Bryce.” “Don’t lose your temper, Bryce.”

In each case, I know in theory what the right decision is. And in each case, I seem to find myself continually drawn back to the bad choice. I stare at the puddle. Dip my toes into it. Maybe even stand in it.

Who am I kidding? I jump in that puddle and splish splash around until I’m soaked from head to foot.

And then, when I’m wet and miserable, I wonder what in the world I was thinking.

Until the next puddle comes along.

Who knows–maybe the next time I’m tempted to make a really boneheaded choice, I’ll think back on this experience. I’ll recognize the puddle for what it is and just keep away from it.

It could happen, right?

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