Modern parables

As a mother, she kept trying out postmodern parental allegories, in which she told a story (usually about herself) with a hidden moral, though often not so spiritual and definitely not political. She almost always started these tales the same way and her children were perceptive enough now to begin rolling their eyes at the mere hint of such a story.

Still, she persisted in her method and when midsummer her younger daughter was suddenly worried about the logistics of middle school, like whether she would be able to find her classrooms, she dug into her memories and came up with a story to tell. This time, however, her daughter tried to shortcut to the moral, asking through spurts of laughter: “Is this the story where you were so worried about following the rules that you peed your pants in school?”

She tried to maintain her serious composure, but broke into her own broad smile. She was impressed that her daughter remembered that story. But, she explained, she had many stories of deep personal embarrassment and was planning to tell a new one – at which point, new peals of laughter burst forth from her daughter. For just a split second, she wondered whether this whole parent parable thing was being taken seriously by her offspring.

Then she shrugged it off and figured that if she could keep them laughing instead of worrying, that was worth something in itself.

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