The Trying Member of the Family
“TOMMY, don’t do that. You know it annoys your grandfather.”
“Well, why should he be annoyed? I am doing nothing wrong.”
“I know that, and it hurts me to ask you, but you know how he will feel if he sees you doing it, and you know that troubles me.”
Reluctantly and sullenly Tommy stopped. Tommy’s mother looked strained and worried and discontented. Tommy had an expression on his face akin to that of a smouldering volcano.
If any one had taken a good look at the grandfather it would have been very clear that Tommy was his own grandson, and that the old man and the child were acting and reacting upon one another in a way that was harmful to both; although the injury was, of course, worse to the child, for the grandfather had toughened. The grandfather thought he loved his little grandson, and the grandson, at times, would not have acknowledged that he did not love his grandfather. At other times, with childish frankness, he said he “hated him.”
But the worst of this situation was that although the mother loved her son, and loved her father, and sincerely thought that she was the family peacemaker, she was all the time fanning the antagonism.
Here is a contrast to this little story An old uncle came into the family of his nephew to live, late in life, and with a record behind him of whims and crotchets in the extreme. The father and mother talked it over. Uncle James must come. He had lost all his money. There was no one else to look after him and they could not afford to support him elsewhere where he would be comfortable. They took it into account, without offence, that it was probably just as much a cross to Uncle James to come as it was to them to have him. They took no pose of magnanimity such as: “Of course we must be good and offer Uncle James a home,” and “How good we are to do it!” Uncle James was to come because it was the only thing for him to do. The necessity was to be faced and fought and conquered, and they had three strong, self-willed little children to face it with them. They had sense enough to see that if faced rightly it would do only good to the children, but if made a burden to groan over it would make their home a “hornets’ nest.” They agreed to say nothing to the children about Uncle James’s peculiarities, but to await developments.
Children are always delighted at a visit from a relative, and they welcomed their great-uncle with pleasure. It was not three days, however, before every one of the three was crying with dislike and hurt feelings and anger. Then was the time to begin the campaign.
The mother, with a happy face, called the three children to her, and said “Now listen, children. Do you suppose I like Uncle James’s irritability any better than you do?”
“No,” came in a chorus; “we don’t see how you stand it, Mother.”