Flash Fiction Fridays: Parenthood Month Continues


Learned in the Cradle
by Camille LaGuire

Ryan was a carefree sort of man, even though he was poor. He never gave a thought to money or savings, or what would happen the next day. This, in spite of the fact that he had a wife and an elderly father to care for.

"Where'd you learn to spend so freely?" said his wife in exasperation, the third time he'd overspent his pay.

"I learned it in the cradle," he said. "Dad was a free and easy man himself when I was young. Always spending the milk money. But we pulled through, didn't we, Dad?"

"Well, you'd better rethink it," warned his wife, "because we'll be having our own child soon."

That was her way of telling him she was expecting, and he was delighted. The prospect of a child affected him strongly. He began to take care of his money and pay attention to his spending. When he toted it up, he saw what a loss they'd have had from his wasteful ways.

And then when the child was born, he became downright frightened. What was he to do? He had a child to care for now. He started to count every single penny and measure ever bite of food he and his family ate. The child needed milk and more milk. And the mother needed good food to stay healthy to care for him.

And as winter came on, it was getting very cold. He'd have to replace their worn clothes...and that's when Ryan looked at his father. An old man who didn't add much to the household.

"I've been taking care of you for years now, but I can't do it any more," he said. "I've got a child. You'll have to go out and fend for yourself."

The old man was shocked, but having lived a profligate life of his own, he took things as they came. He got up and picked up a blanket to take with him, but Ryan snatched it away.

"That's for my child," he declared.

"But son," said the old man, pleading. "It's cold outside, and I'll freeze."

"I have to think of my own son now, like you never did."

And here there was the sound of a child fussing, and both turned to look. 

A voice rose of the the cradle, the tiny piping voice of a babe, but with the diction of a grown man, "Aye, and think of what I learned in my cradle," said the baby, "when I take that blanket from you when you're old!"

Camille LaGuire is the author six novels and two short story collections, which you can find here. To learn more about Camille, visit her blog


Elizabeth Young said…
Wow, this is a profound story. Our children do learn from the cradle and there's no changing things afterwards. Because we all make mistakes the next generation can judge us very harshly, just as we did our parents, and so the circle of life continues, a circle too often fraught with friction.
That is very true, Elizabeth. Thank you for commenting.

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