[ par-suh-MOH-nee-us ]
- Exhibiting or marked by thrift or economy; especially: frugal to the point of stinginess.
- Sparing, restrained.
** Either a story beginning, a story ending, a piece of flash fiction, a poem, painting, dance move—inspired by the word, parsimonious, where does it take me? Where does it take you? Learn more about “The Word” here.
It was a Tuesday. I remember that clearly for some reason. A rainy day outside—or that might be something I made up to embellish the story—the weather isn’t relevant at all, though. Anyway, I just got home from school, and my dad was home, waiting to greet me as always.
We hugged, I put my backpack down, and then immediately went into it.
“Dad, I need some advice,” I said. I was thirteen, and the problem at the time seemed super urgent. He nodded for me to continue. “There’s these two girls at school. I like them both, and they both like me, and they’re both best friends. How do I choose between them?”
That was the day my dad stopped speaking to me. He just stared at me after I asked my question. Then, he smiled at me, hugged me, pulled back, and held my shoulders. It was like he was trying to infuse me with a message rather than tell it to me.
After he walked away, I was dumbfounded. I stood by the front door for at least ten minutes. Just standing there, trying to understand what happened.
On and on it would go like that.
“Dad, I need help with my math homework. I can’t figure it out.”
Then, the typical smile and hug. I’ll admit that he always put a lot of energy into those hugs, so I at least felt like he loved me. It was just frustrating to all hell why he wouldn’t just talk to me! Two days later, I returned to him again; my math class just getting more and more complicated.
“Dad, I need to hire a math tutor to help me out. I’ve tried extra help, but it’s not enough. I’ve tried online videos, but it’s not enough.”
Without hesitation, he again smiled at me but then handed me his credit card. Hiring yourself a tutor at thirteen is awkward, but I worked it out and aced my class thanks to The Roaming Scholar (😂).
This silence from my dad went on for years, until today. I was sitting with him for lunch, a typically quiet affair.
“Hey, Dad,” I started. “I just want to let you know some stuff I’ve decided.” He looked at me with wide eyes, always attentive, even if he never said anything. “I’ve decided on the College I’m going to, University of Maryland. I’ll be majoring in Aerospace Engineering. I want to work on rockets for Space X when I graduate and help bring humanity to Mars!”
“Wow!” he said, and I spit my food out, pieces hitting him in the face. He just laughed and wiped it off.
“You talk… now? After all these years? Why?”
“Son, this is the first time in all those years that the first words out of your mouth weren’t asking me for advice or help. This is the first time you’ve told me something you decided.”
Definitely an extreme method of parenting! Lol. But can you imagine it? Parents or no parents, I think we’re all quick to throw out our advice to others, based on our experience. Rather than give our experience for others to use as advice. A subtle difference.
For instance, when I teach, and my students tell me they don’t know what to do next and look to me for answers, I instead pose questions. Questions that will lead to solutions. My goal with teaching is always to help my students learn what questions to ask themselves to solve a problem.
This story, I think, could be a cool family movie. Kids walking away with a little more self-awareness and confidence, and maybe parents walking away with a new idea: to be a little parsimonious with advice.
Letting your children learn through mistakes has to be the hardest thing a parent can do. From the outside looking in, from my teaching perspective, I think it’s often the best way. But…
What do you think of Parsimonious?
What do you think as a parent, student, son, daughter, teacher, etc.? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Leave your thoughts, your own story beginning/ending, flash-fiction, or whatever in the comments! Where did parsimonious or my story take you?
If you liked this story, check out my podcast of short stories, More Than A Story.
Today’s word is from Merriam-Webster.
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