I have had very little time these days for any serious musing, reflecting or writing--thus the series of easy posts (videos, literary excerpts, and such). Here's another. Every parent out there will read this and know exactly how Hester Prynne feels. To set the scene: Hester is an adulteress in Puritan New England. Pearl, her daughter, is the result of the adulterous relationship. Town authorities are worried about Pearl's physical and spiritual well-being, being raised as she is by a stained woman. As a result they are considering removing Pearl from her mother's care. They proceed to question Pearl to ascertain how effectively she is being catechized into the faith. Meanwhile, Hester stands by, no doubt holding her breath and praying fervently for her little girl's cooperation:
"Pearl," said he [Rev. Wilson], with great solemnity, "thou must take heed to instruction, that so, in due season, thou mayest wear in thy bosom the pearl of great price. Canst thou tell me, my child, who made thee?"
Now Pearl knew well enough who made her, for Hester Prynne, the daughter of a pious home, very soon after her talk with the child about her Heavenly Father, had begun to inform her of those truths which the human spirit, at whatever stage of immaturity, imbibes with such eager interest. Pearl, therefore, so large were the attainments of her three years' lifetime, could have borne a faint examination in the New England Primer, or the first column of the Westminster Catechism, although unacquainted with the outward form of either of those celebrated works.* But that perversity which all children have more or less of, and of which little Pearl had a tenfold portion, now, at the most inopportune moment, took thorough possession of her, and closed her lips, or impelled her to speak words amiss. After putting her finger in her mouth, with many ungracious refusals to answer good Mr. Wilson's question, the child finally announced that she had not been made at all, but had been plucked by her mother off the bush of wild roses, that grew by the prison-door.
from The Scarlet Letter, chapter 8, "The Elf-Child and the Minister," by Nathaniel Hawthorne
It's one of those groan-inducing moments, the kind that makes a parent look unbelievingly at his or her child and wonder, "Is this really my kid? The one that thirty minutes ago I found so completely enchanting and delightful? How could that adorable little angel have so quickly turned into the naughty little devil I see before me?"
It's also one of those moments when you realize your powerlessness as a parent. You raise them up the best you can, but there are times they're gonna do what they're gonna do and your only recourse is to stand by, watch and pray.
*Some of my relaxed/unschooly teach-at-home friends will particularly appreciate this sentence.