Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pinocchio's Wish

A boy went to a restaurant with his parents. When the server asked him what he wanted, he ordered a hot dog and a soda. His mother quickly said, “Oh, no, he’ll have the skinless chicken breast with vegetables.” His dad added, “And milk instead of soda.” The boy looked crestfallen. The server paused, then turned to the boy. “Would you like relish on your hot dog?” she asked. After she left the table, the boy was beaming. “Did you see that?” he exclaimed. “She thinks I’m real!”

When I heard this story, I thought about how often I run roughshod over people’s feelings. Not because I’m mean, but because I’m distracted or in a hurry, or because I think I know better.

The boy’s parents were presumably thinking about their son’s nutritional health when overriding his order. But his response goes beyond physical nutrition to nutrition of the soul. Just like the wooden puppet Pinocchio, who wished to be a real boy, we all want to be recognized as real. We want to be listened to. And valued. And cared about.

That server probably didn’t get a big tip from those parents, but, like the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, she granted the boy’s wish for something more important than a hot dog.

related post: That Man Might Be Jesus

72 comments:

  1. That's such a touching story, Galen. As parents, we think we are doing our best for our children. It's true with the saying that people love you the way that they know how, whatever way that is, not because they are mean but that's what they know how to do.

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    1. I Know. I think of all the times I ignored what my kids were doing or saying because I too busy doing what I thought was right. This story really made me think! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. Dear Galen,
    So true! Unless the child has hotdogs every day at home, what's the harm to let him have it once in a while out?
    - Cathy
    seagreennatural.com

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    1. Cathy, I'm not trying to second guess their parenting decisions, but it did make me think of times when I could have said handled a parenting situation with more consideration for my children's feelings. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Galen,

    I think this is quite an amazing story because really listening and attention is almost akin to pure love. It doesn't mean always getting the material item that you want, but you get so much more in the process. I just really loved this story. It highlights in such a simple way what we can give to each other so easily.

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    1. Sandra, I appreciate your observation that in this scenario, listening and attention wouldn't necessarily mean that the boy would get the hot dog. But it is easy, as you say, to listen and attend in simple ways. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Hi, Galen.

    This post is absolutely beautiful - thanks for bringing a little more light into my life with it.

    Take care,

    Casey

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    1. Casey, I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. Loved the story Galen!

    I think there is such an important lesson in this short story for parents. We often (in-fact most of the time) - think for our kids, take decisions for them, and put what we feel for them before what their feelings are, because that's our way of showing concern and care for them.

    Just as in the story, the parents were thinking from the nutritional point of view, something that I also do, which to a certain degree is alright, but it sometimes suppresses the child's desires and wishes.

    I guess we need to give them freedom to take or make certain decisions, though no harm suggesting what we feel if we really have to - but just leave it at heat. This helps them take major decisions when they grow up later in life, without depending on their parents or seeking help and guidance later.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece with all of us. :)

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    1. Harleena, I know I saw myself as a parent in this story! I did something like this so many times! When we see it reflected back to us, like in this story, I think most parents can see some reflection of themselves, at least now and then. Thanks for your comment.

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  6. It sounds as though the parents, in their desire to do the best for their child, forgot he's a little person in his own right. It can be all too easy to be disrespectful to kids, without even being aware of it ~ being their guide and caregiver doesn't mean it can't be done while valuing them as the wonderful little people they are. IMHO. :-)

    Great conversation Galen.

    Elle
    xoxo

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    1. Elle, I've made so many mistakes as a parent, I try not to second guess others. But even beyond parenting, I can see how I do this in other contexts as well. When I read this story, I saw myself in many scenarios. Thanks for your comment.

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    2. I completely agree, Elle. I see way too many parents treating their children as interruptions or not worth the time and energy to really listen to. What really frosts me are the parents on a cell phone while completely ignoring the child at a playground or restaurant. Apparently, the person on the other end of the phone is so much more important than the child. At least that is the very obvious message the child receives.

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    3. Bob, I see that scene, too. I also see kids on their cell phones ignoring parents! I remember telling my daughter that if she didn't put her cell phone down while I was talking to her, I would throw it out the car window! I would have, too!

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  7. I know exactly what you mean, and I too have been guilty of this too. But I am a fan of letting children test their feet not just toes in the water! Just last Sunday, my two oldest grandsons (clearly old enough to make their own plates) finally got to do so at grandma's house. I positioned them away from their parents and asked if the boys could just make their own plates! It worked! For that meal anyway! Even sometimes in are haste of needing to get everything done, there is always time for kindness. This little boy's comment was priceless! Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Karen, Great story about the meal and a perfect example of a simple way we can encourage and allow our kids and grandkids to be independent. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  8. I often have to shut my mouth and let the kids handle themselves (ordering at a restaurant, talking to the cashier, whatever). I've seen that crestfallen face when I've overridden them. They can eat healthy the rest of the time at home, but you can't take away the way they learn to negotiate the world for themselves. That is the goal, after all!

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    1. Julie, I have two autistic sons, and one of the things I've done is let them order for themselves in restaurants. If the server is having trouble understanding them, I might repeat what they are saying, but I like them to have to interact for themselves. And remember to say please and thank you! Thanks for your comment.

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  9. Ah, Galen, I too am guilty of doing that sometimes. But I was lucky to have good examples to follow - in terms of not thinking for other people. I just loved that little story. I think each one of us must have gone through that, usually with good intentions, at some time or other. Even if we're conscious about how we communicate, how we behave, I think it is always good to have a nudge once in a while. Thank you :-) (I wish teleportation was for real - I'd have you over in a trice!) Hugs to you, Galen!

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    1. Vidya, Most of us can see ourselves in this story at some point in our lives. About the tea, I appreciate the invitation. Now why can't technology figure this out!? Thanks for commenting.

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  10. That is a wonderful story. i can't remember when or where I read it first, but it had a big impact on my way to deal with my children. i became more aware of their needs. I learned to listen to what they have to say, and to believe they know better what they need.

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    1. Nikky, I can't remember where I read it either. If anyone knows where this story is from, please let me know. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. Great story and a lesson learned. Children are.people too and I believe in blue fairies and I thankful they enter our universe to teach us lessons.

    Love and light
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, The Blue Fairy in Pinocchio was very wise indeed! Thanks for your comment.

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  12. I so relate even though I don't have children of my own. I've had medical professionals talk to me with their assistants as though I'm not in the room. Hello?! I can hear you! Heehee! It has to be challenging being a parent though. It's always interesting how they are so wise at such a young age.

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    1. Lisa, What a great example! I've had medical people do that to me, too. But the example that jumped in my mind was someone trying to sell me carpet! He was talking to me like I couldn't understand anything. Thanks for the example and your comment.

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  13. Galen, this little story and your words mean a lot to me. I stopped and did a little internal search and found that what you say is true. I'll be more aware today. Kindness and accepting other's realities will be my intention.

    Glad I stopped by. You always have something of value to share.

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    1. Myrna, It's a good reminder for me, too. Thanks for your kind words.

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  14. Great story and I thank you for sharing.

    I liked the short, sweet, targeted point and writing. Thank you for that too

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    1. Patricia, Thanks for the kind words.

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  15. Little post, big message. Thank you.

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  16. I do this once in a while with my husband! Thanks for the embarrassing reminder.

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    1. Ha! You are funny. Thanks for commenting.

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  17. Oh my goodness. I wonder how many times I have done this and not even thought about it. Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a great weekend.

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    1. Bonnie, Me, too! Thanks for your comment, and have a good weekend.

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  18. Oh wow this was so powerful...how guilty am I??? plenty! Thanks for the gentle but powerful reminder....

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    1. Rhonda, You are in good company. Thanks for commenting.

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  19. I'm glad you broke it down for me because I couldn't get past the part where the parents changed the kids order. In my house when we go out the kids pick what they want to eat. I suppose it is because I choose dinners at home, well I did, now that my daughter is cooking half of the time she chooses too. I also think of eating out as a special occasion, that is the only time we eat out at a restaurant. I've far more been guilty of letting people push and pull me their ways than me doing it to them. Guess I will spend some time reflecting on this.

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    1. Interesting that you see yourself more on the side of the child's experience than the parents. Most of us have probably been on both sides at various times in our lives. Thanks for commenting.

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  20. hmmm... WOW that gave me the chills! Very powerful message ~thank you!

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    1. You're welcome... I shared on my Facebook page (with link to your site). This is my first time hearing the story; i've thought about it on and off all day.

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    2. Amy, Thanks so much for promoting my post. I appreciate it!

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  21. Galen -- very thoughtful post. It reminds me of why I left my hometown as soon as high school was over. The people around you get so used to seeing you in a certain way that you start to see yourself that way too. It can be very limiting -- but then we turn around and do it to our own kids!

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    1. Stephen, I laughed when I read your comment because it's so true! Thanks for sharing this insightful observation.

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  22. A powerful story! I just had an incident somewhat like this just today. I am afraid I didn'thandle it well. This was a very thoughtful post. I needed this one!

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    1. LeAnn, You are in good company. We can all think of times like this that we didn't handle things well. Thanks for commenting.

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  23. Wow! I did not feet hat coming, probably because I identified with the parents. I am going to watch when I am treating my kids invisibly! Sometimes I do think I know what is best, but they have to make their own choices and have wrong ones too, or they will never learn. One of the worst things we can do is make life "perfect" for our children, when we do, we don't recognize their soul's journey

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    1. Jodi, Parenting is always a balancing act, isn't it? Sometimes we fall too far on one side or the other. I like to think we are modeling that it's okay not to be perfect! Thanks for commenting.

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  24. Whenever I took my children to a restaurant, I expected them to order what would taste good for them. After all, this was a real and rare treat!
    It saddens me to hear parents ignoring their child's voice and will. There are times to correct them, and there are times to allow them to explore the freedom of their choices, to empower them in making the right ones.
    As parents, we should be guides, not dictators; allowing our children to learn from their mistakes and catch them when they fall. Just as God catches us when we fail and fall.
    Beautiful reflection, Galen! I pray that waitress got that great tip after all. :)
    Blessings to you!

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    1. Martha, I certainly tried to live up to your description of parents as guides, and I think I did a good part of the time. But I had my moments, many of them, when, like the parents in the story, I did what I thought was best, when perhaps in hindsight it wasn't. And yes, I hope that server got a big tip--she deserved it! Thanks for your comment.

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  25. Oh, I liked it. Thought-provoking and true. My mother was always very strict about food when I was a child but now I'm grateful for that (I'm quite healthy and also my figure is not as bad). So, I think, you have a point, but parental guidance is important too, because, as cliched as it sounds - parents got more experience. Anyway, good post.

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    1. Dave, I agree. I've tried in the post and the comments to refrain from criticizing the parents in this story. I assume that their motivations were good, and we don't know what their family's expectations and understandings were about diet. The point of the story, to me, is about the boy's appreciation for the server's interaction with him. I too often see myself overlooking someone in various ways. The story reminds me to recognize the inherent integrity and value of everyone. That doesn't mean that as a parent I don't override my kids' decisions sometimes. But it does mean that regardless of my decisions, I try to respect them and listen to them. Thanks for adding your perspective.

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  26. Aw, what a wonderful post! It did make me stop and think. Although I'd have hoped the kid would have opted for the chicken as well, lol. None the less, loved this post! Made me smile.

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    1. sheila, I hear you! I was out with my family yesterday, and I started to override my son's order...and he's 25 years old! Oh my! I caught myself, but really! Thanks for your comment.

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  27. Galen,
    I grew up with a very controlling mother. On the rare occasion that we when I went out, I too was not allowed to choose my own dinners.

    Your story perfectly illustrates the damage that's done when parents are over controlling, even if it is out of love and concern. This child felt invisible.

    I never learned to trust my own instincts and decision making capabilities, and that's why I ignored my intuition and made many mistakes in my own life.

    I guess I should thank her though....had she not been so over-controlling I would not have been led to write about the importance of listening to your intuition!

    Excellent story!

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    1. Angela, Like you, I grew up not trusting my judgment or my intuition. I love the way you turned a childhood challenge into something to be grateful for. Thanks for commenting.

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  28. I absolutely love this story! Good for that waitress! I hope it was the best hot dog ever!
    Hugs,
    GraceinAZ

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    1. Grace, I hope so, too! Thanks for commenting.

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  29. Galen, I only just came across this post. (I've been sick with wintry bugs and not visiting my favourite blogs)
    What a great story - and I've also enjoyed the comments that other visitors have made. I fear that I was a rather controlling mother when my kids were small - but I would never have done what these parents did!

    Once again you've made me think. Thank you.

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    1. Alexia, Hope you are feeling better! You are a better parent than I, because I'm sure I did do what these parents did, or something similar, many times. I still do and all my kids are grown now. Hopefully I balanced it with other times when I let them handle their own affairs. Thanks for your comment.

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  30. It is difficult to remember that our children are people and not extensions of ourselves. I am finding that with the children in my home I am much better at it than I was when My children were young. It is one thing to be a responsible parent completely another to run roughshod over their desires.

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    1. Jan, You pointed out the key, I think. The balance between being a responsible parent (as in, No, you can't wear that suggestive top) and letting them make their own decisions (as in, Sure, you can wear that T-shirt on your head if you want to). Thanks for commenting.

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  31. Galen,
    how often I do with my daughter, trying to be the perfect mother, thanks for reminding me ! glad to read this for my inspiration today!

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    1. G Angela, So glad this was helpful to you today. Thanks for your comment.

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  32. Thanks for sharing this Galen ! i too try hard to be the best mother for my daughter - this is a reminder for me !

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  33. Pearl...I felt like I was watching a scene from a movie....one perhaps from the 50s (why I'm seeing that, I don't know). The story is profound as are your words. 'I hear you' and 'I see you' are 2 sentences, when said from the heart, makes a person feel extraordinary. I love the phrase 'nutrition of the soul'. Thank you for such profound words. With blessings....Fran

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    1. Fran, I like the way you highlighted those two thoughts. Thank you so much for your very kind words.

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  34. Hi Galen,

    Lovely story and so true. We can overlook other's feelings or feel that we are not being heard. This is such an important reminder for all of us, but one to remember when raising children. It means so much for them to have a voice whenever possible. That's how confidence is built. Thanks for sharing a great post!

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    1. Cathy, I know I have done this with my children many times. Trying to do better. Thanks for your comment.

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