The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey

My family is a little bit difficult to please. I’ve talked about it in no particular detail at earlier points. If you cook a meal, they’ll be looking for the bread you forgot. If you made pasta, they’d miss the meatballs. If you remembered the meatballs, they’d miss the sausage. And so on and so forth. It’s not that they’re ungrateful, they’re just…thorough.

Over the course of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to forecast these ‘needs’ and prepare for them in advance, so as to avoid unnecessary lectures, extra trips to the store, and/or belabored sighs.

This constant demand has two purposes really, the first of which is obviously to keep one from ever feeling comfortable or confident about anything (because, Lord, what would be the use of that?), and the second is to annoy you to the point at which you’d prefer moving your entire family to Canada to eating Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ve learned to manage the tomato-throwing hecklers to a degree over the course of my life. I’ve managed to either find a way to please everyone or decline to participate. There are some tasks I perform well, and I perform those tasks. Others, I’ve stopped trying.  Lately, though, with the weight of a family and home to care for, I must admit I’ve been slacking.

Details have been forgotten (No extra socks for Maggie!?), traditions have been disregarded (Dinner at 2pm! Sharp!), and for the most part, there’s been a lot of takeout. But I’m not in a position to apologize. I’m in a position of someone quite literally holding up the walls at home, and empathy’s been at a bit of a premium.

On the hallowed drive home from all events family, my poor husband has had many (many) permutations of the same conversation with me, analyzing the fact that if I’d said or done A, they’d have said or done B. Or that I should have done B, then they wouldn’t have complained about A. And I admit, in the wake of recent events, really trivial. But it happens every time.

And, twice now, my husband’s broken out the Middle Eastern version of an Aesop fable, no different from the story below, except in his version, the man’s name is something I can't pronounce. Plus, he tells it better.


Please, have a read:


A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”

Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?”

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:


*Courtesy of  The Man, the Boy and the


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