IT never occurred to me that our sons would consider me, of all people, unfair in anything. Certainly I deserved the quick response of ``Coming, Mother!'' whenever and wherever I called. However, I was challenged one day when silence followed several calls. Well, that called for immediate action on my part.
Up the stairs I marched to our 11-year-old's room. In no uncertain terms I told him that I expected him to come immediately when I called.
With quiet and very respectful tone, his response was, ``Well, Mom, you don't come when I call you!''
He was right, I didn't. I was stopped dead in my tracks. How was I going to respond? My first thought was, ``What's fair is fair.''
Then the Golden Rule came flooding in.
What would I do that I would like done unto me? Did I believe that this rule applied to us - to this situation?
Of course, it did. And here was an opportunity to show, by example, how it really works.
As I sat on the edge of his bed, we agreed we would work out a pact. If, when called, either of us were in the middle of a project, we would call out, ``Give me `two,''' or `five,' or whatever time was needed for a convenient break. Call it a ``grace note.''
If, however, an immediate response was needed, we would call, ``NOW,'' and the other would come flying. That seemed fair enough to us both. (Sibling brother in another room also got the message!)
The tension was off. It has worked over many years. To this day, should I call, ``NOW,'' the response would be the same. This valuable lesson spilled over into a broader discipline for me: Never ask your child to do anything you wouldn't do or be willing to do.
Pauline F. Knight
A NEARBY neighbor was a lovely man who had recently been widowed. He and his wife had, some years before, adopted a little girl. Several years later another adoptive daughter had joined their household. We all - my husband, two sons, and I - alternated between a sense of pity and great admiration for this dear father's coping with the bringing up of two motherless children.
One day we noticed that our neighbor dashed off more frequently in dark blue suit, shining white shirt with cheerful tie flying. We wondered if he had a ``lady friend.'' Soon we found our hopes realized as he began to bring home, of an afternoon, a most attractive, appealing, and, best of all, motherly woman.
Her presence prompted much coming and going, and little girl giggles and grown-up smiles. There was a fluttering of uncles and aunts and a shuffling of household furnishings.
Before too long, our neighbor and his ``lady friend'' were, indeed, married! The whole neighborhood sighed a happy sigh to see this family at last complete.
We observed in them a growing and expanding sense of love: the new-party-dress kind of love, the walking-hand-in-hand kind of love - even the eat-your-lima-beans-before-dessert kind of love.
It was clear that caring and sharing and togetherness are the ingredients that make a family. Though our neighbors had come together at different times, from different places with different parentages and heritages, they formed and fulfilled the idea of family as completely as any.
Patricia L. Sand
Murray Hill, N.J.
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