Mark was a quiet young man, one that you could easily take home to your parents and not be embarrassed by. Most girls found this to be a good quality in a guy, though admittedly kind of boring. Mark was a little different in that he happened to be handsome as well as mild-mannered, so the ladies had no problem overlooking his lack of spontaneity in trade for his mysteriously calm sense about him.
Mark was 15 years old and smarter than most of the boys his age. He was a hardworking fella as well. He would often get up at 4:00 in the morning in order to tend the farm and then get ready for school. Which here in lies the problem; Mark loved school and he was getting ready to graduate.
College was something that the rich kids were allowed to go to- if their parents found it valuable and had the help they needed for the daily chores. Mark’s family was not rich by any means, however, they weren’t doing too badly for the time either. Mark had been talking about going to college his whole life, and his parents just brushed him off as much as they could. They would have to hire a helping hand if Mark went to school, and besides, why would the boy want to go to college to become a doctor when he has a nice farm to lean back on?
Mark loved science and longed to be able to help practice medicine. He knew that he would be good at it if given the chance. He worked his whole life for this. Mark would pull out his chemistry set every day and log what would happen when he mixed different formulas together. Mark worked diligently on this for the past five years. He would work for his teacher on the side and the only payment he would accept is beakers and Petri dishes. Once in a while he would work extra hard at some of the other farms in order to save enough money for a microscope, but he didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to that and microscopes were very expensive.
One warm afternoon Mark was feeling very brave, or perhaps he was overly tired from all of his hard work, either way, he decided to quit the farm. He sat down the pale of milk and got up off the stool and walked away. His father who was working nearby asked him, “What’s the matter son, don’t you feel well?”
“No, Pa. I quit the farm. I’m going to go to college.” Mark said strongly while puffing out his chest.
“First son, you are going to finish milking the cows. After that you are going to feed the hogs. When that is done, you are going to give the horses their grain. When you’re all done with that, you will eat dinner and we can discuss this college bit.” Mark’s dad wiped his brow with a handkerchief.
“No, Pa. I’m done right now. I’m going to go to college.” Mark took his hat off and set it on the pile of rocks next to him.
Mark’s dad got up from his work and walked over to Mark and grabbed his shoulder. “Now boy, you listen to me and you listen clearly. I will allow you to go to college when fall comes, but until then you will not be sitting around my home acting lazy and better than everyone. Do I make myself clear?” Mark’s Dad wiped the sweat off his face again.
“Yes, Pa.” Mark said, returning the hat onto his head.
When the men finished their work, the two of them walked into the house, both were very hungry.
“How’d it go out there?” Ma asked.
“Just fine. You know, our son is going to go to college. I think he’ll make a fine doctor one day.” Pa glanced down to his son and winked at him. Mark smiled at his dad and then volunteered to lead the family in prayer, it was of course an honor since he was almost an adult anyway.
His parent’s glanced at each other and smiled warmly as they bowed their heads. Both knew they were raising the finest young man in the whole county.
A few things to think about when reading this story:
- The value of hard work is not child abuse.
- Parents lead by example.
- Parents can parent without arguing or name calling.
- Gratification isn’t immediate and it comes after a lot of hard work.