My Son And The Drunk Moose


Moose Up Close

Moose Up Close (Photo credit: Douglas Brown)

Sometimes I wonder if the moose that got stuck in the tree has ever lived down this moment. I know, it sounds ridiculous to give animals human attributes, but sometimes I can’t help wondering about these things.

“Hey Marty, do you remember the time you tied one on and ended up stuck in a tree. Man, you have got to stay away from those fermented apples.”

Poor Marty is already feeling very much like an outsider because he is the young buck who desperately wants a big honking set of antlers but doesn’t have any yet. So to compensate for his shame he goes after those fermented apples with a passion.

More on this in a moment, I promise it connects with all that you read here.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

It sounds silly but I really didn’t understand how much parenting is done on the fly until I became a father. Maybe I am guilty of not having thought about some of this in more detail, or maybe it is just because my parents always seemed to have answers that I didn’t think about.

Regardless of the reason I learned long ago that much of this job is tied into how fast we can think on our feet and respond to the logical and illogical moments in life.

This past November I was reminded of it courtesy of the sixth grade science project that my son took to school. I thought the assignment was silly but I didn’t say anything to my son about it because his grade was tied into it and I didn’t want to poison the well.

After hours of hard work he took the project to school where it was promptly crushed by another student. The hows and why of what happen don’t matter–it was an accident.

What matters is that my son came home feeling sad, angry and frustrated. It wasn’t just because his project was harmed but because he thought many of the other students had done better work.

What Happens When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough?

For twelve years he has heard me tell him that my primary concern with school work and life in general is based upon whether he did his best. He knows that I am not the father who demands all A’s.

That is not because I think grades are ridiculous (I do, but that is a long story) but because I care about him earning the grade he deserves based upon his capabilities. Sometimes the best we can do is less than an ‘A’ and sometimes anything less than that aforementioned letter is proof of slacking off.

Since we are measured against other people chances are that there will be moments when our best isn’t good enough to get what we hope for.

And that my friends is why I like the picture of the drunk moose and the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote because they work for me.

Sometimes Life is Absurd

Sometimes life is absurd and ridiculous. Sometimes we do our best and the ball doesn’t bounce our way and we come up short.

When those days happen I like to remember what Emerson said because it is timeless and wise.

My children know that when the lights go out and they are alone with their thoughts I want them to be able to go sleep knowing they did their best, regardless of the outcome.

If you can do that it is much easier to close your eyes and feel good about your day and yourself.

Of course I haven’t mentioned that sometimes I have a hell of a time doing it myself, which is another reason why I like the drunk moose in the tree.

I look at Bullwinkle and think that it could be worse. I could be a drunk moose that is stuck in a tree and the butt of all of the jokes down at the moose lodge.

That could be awkward. The other moose might tell me to get lost and I’d be stuck with the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes.

“Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  1. Tim Bonner January 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I am really with you on doing parenting on the fly.

    Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing but I seem to come up with some sort of reasonable solution!

  2. Frank Strong January 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    As my father used to say about skiing, “You’ve got to fall down 1,000 times before your an expert.” Now I’m going to take a second shot at that tree. 🙂

  3. Jared Karol January 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Jack, loved this perspective, as it one that I learn, forget, relearn, forget, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. . .right now I’m in the process of relearning it, and, more specifically to the first quote, that each day is indeed new, and whatever happens in that day will happen then – it’s not gonna happen the day before, and it’s not gonna carry into the following day. One of the main reasons I dropped off the writing circuit for so long is that I found that I was always thinking of what I could/should/would/wanted to/needed to write, and it was taking up so much more of my time than just the half hour of actually writing. Now, w/ my new routine, I’m working on doing my writing time when it’s my writing time, and not devoting my other time where I should be spending time w/ my family or following other pursuits. If that means that I don’t get to develop my writing pieces as thoroughly as they could be, than so be it. If a piece of writing can’t be written in my designated morning slot, than it won’t get written. End of story. Anyway, this is an extremely long-winded way of saying that I found balance, I enjoy that balance, I want to maintain that balance, and your post resonated w/ me because it spoke to that a bit. Thanks for that.

    • Jack January 11, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Hi Jared,

      I have really enjoyed your last few posts. I think your experience is very common. It is really easy to get lost in thoughts of what we should write and what people will think of it.

      Or even when we don’t wonder or worry about those things it is easy to lose chunks of time and discover we missed our window.

      Glad to hear you found yours again.

  4. Julie Barrett January 10, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Hi Jack, the first quote is one of my all-time favorites. The second, I don’t recall reading before, but I may just have forgotten my youth. Nonetheless, both are perfect. If joining cub scouts was a debacle, the ONE good thing that came out of it is it seems to have seared “do your best” into my eldest’s brain and psyche. What more is there than that? I read somewhere that for kids, the best thing they can learn early on is how to work at things that are hard for them – to learn how to think, to cope when it doesn’t come easily. That’s what helps them parent on the fly when they grow up and become us.

    • Jack January 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

      Hi Julie,

      The first time I read Emerson (I was 14) I hated him because I couldn’t relate, but now I love his work. So much truth.

      I think learning by doing is sometimes the hardest way to learn, but it is also the best. It is where we prove to ourselves we can do it and that is critical for kids and adults.

  5. Phil Aguilar January 10, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I know that when I was that age I didn’t understand about how everything was relative. We always based our successes on everyone else. Funny how being an adult hasn’t changed that too much. Hmmm….

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