Of parents, kids and a borrowed tale
The boundless affection and the intense protectiveness of parents towards their offspring is a distinctly human characteristic. Clearly, varying degrees of this parental instinct is also found in other members of mammalian species as well.
Parents, with their absolute love and devotion, act as the bedrock of support for moulding their children into a secure and confident adult. Barring a few unfortunate circumstances where the kids are unloved or abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
All that matters
There are enough anecdotes from the literature, mythology and real-life accounts, of parents, who were willing to give up everything, to ensure the well-being of their children.
Pride and Joy
From time to time, out of this excessive love, it is not uncommon for the parents to indulge in a kind of philoprogenitive behaviour. Most among us have either done it or have witnessed it, where the parents go on boasting about the qualities and achievements of their children to almost everyone they encounter.
On the same note, you can’t judge parents for this nature, as there remains a scientific ground for such behaviour as well.
For all the butterflies fluttering in your stomach and for the giddy passionate romantic love you feel at the sight of a potential romantic partner or the intense, affectionate, all-inclusive, tugging at the heartstrings kind of love parents harbour for their offspring, science has an identical explanation. That, it is the selfish gene within you that’s making you feel and do all those things, orchestrated by a cocktail of hormones, acting as the middlemen.
The fragment of DNA is entirely selfish, with only one intention of preserving and propagating its genetic material for generations to come.
A short story
How can one equate the four-letter word love to the four-letter word gene?
Jokes apart, let’s switch over to an attractive, entertaining short story written by O.Henry, The Ransom of Red Chief.
It’s fascinating to see how the author has portrayed the parent or the father in this story. You may criticise his approach; nevertheless, he had a clear understanding of his son’s conduct.
Few of you might have already read it, or have watched the movie or TV adaptation based on it. The full story, first published in 1907, is available on various websites, a synopsis is given below.
The Ransom of Red chief
Two felons, Bill and Sam, looking for some quick money, kidnap the only child of a prominent, influential man named Ebenezer Dorset and demands for $ 2000, as ransom. Knowing well about the philoprogenitiveness of the parents, the kidnappers were quite optimistic about the outcome of their mission.
Red-haired Johnny, the child captive, who called himself the Red Chief, an outlaw pirate, was looking forward to having some fun, away from home. To his captor’s dismay, the cool, mischievous lad actually started to enjoy their company and camping out in the cave. He began playing pranks and terrorising the captors with physical attacks, rendering their life miserable.
Ironically the captors became captives at the hands of the ten-year-old unerringly impish boy, who was celebrating his freedom from the rigorous school routines and a strict household.
Out of the two, Bill was often the target of mischievous pranks, who was petrified, even to take a nap at night, unsure of the boy’s next tricks.
Before long, the captors smelled the trouble of keeping the boy for another day and decreased the ransom amount to $1500, as by this time, they were not quite sure about the celebrated moral affection, the boy’s father felt towards this wildcat.
The father who knew very well about his son’s intolerable nature refuses to pay the kidnappers, while the red chief continues to drive the captors crazy.
Finally, the father makes a counter-proposition and offers to take the child back if the kidnappers pay him $250.
The visibly relieved kidnappers happily consented to the father’s offer and agreed to pay the money and hand over the boy.
There was something more in store for the already bewildered captors. While they attempted to put the lad back at home, to their horror, the boy started howling and clamped himself tightly to Bill’s leg, unwilling to leave the company he enjoyed thoroughly.
The alarmed felons requested the father to restrain the brat tightly for barely ten minutes, the time needed to run for their lives to the Canadian border.
The way the story unfolds, you can observe that the father was familiar with his son’s mischievous ways, so he was unperturbed in an otherwise scary situation.
A detailed literary analysis of the characters and circumstances is beyond the scope of my knowledge.
Each parent, as well as the child, is unique, their journey memorable. There will be moments of joy, pride, despair, frustration, fighting, happiness and accomplishments along the path.
And in a blink of an eye, they all grow, if only one can slow down the clock !