Worse Off Than A Monk

Image result for Goizueta, Navarra, Spain

Photo: Mapio.net; Goizueta, Navarre


“I am not going!”

They cannot send him to that miserable hut where there’s no electricity, no running water, creepy crawlies, and no internet. Even monks have internet. He was going to be worse off than a monk!

His father sighed. “Aitona Antton needs help and Osaba Alesander is still recovering from his motorcycle accident.”

“So I need to lose a leg to get out of this?” Danel grumbled.

His father’s sharp inhale told him he’d gone too far.

He shrugged apology. He was in enough trouble. Ditching school, hanging out “with the wrong crowd.” It was exile or jail.

“He’s your great-grandfather,” his father sounded tired, and not just from spending nights at Uncle Alesander’s bedside. “You used to love visiting him.”

“Before Birramona died …” Danel stopped. The remote homestead was awfully quiet without his great-grandmother. How much more so for Aitona-handia?

He sighed. “At least I like goat-cheese.”



For What Pegman Saw

(Basque glossaryAitona: Grandfather;  Aitona-handia: Great grandfather;  Birramona: Great grandmother;  Osaba: Uncle)


15 thoughts on “Worse Off Than A Monk

  1. A wonderful story. Somehow I things are going to turn out just fine for this young man. Although his lips are too quick to spew his first thoughts, his second thoughts come out loud and clear and wise.

    • Indeed! You totally got it! 🙂 Yes, teenagers have a reputation for being self-centered and selfish, but many times we confuse their rapid-fire emotions and their speaking-their-mind with not caring … Yet if we listen, and perhaps, if we remind them gently of the bigger picture of the world that whirls around them as they try to find their footing as an individual, they often are capable of great empathy, insight, and compassion. I think he’ll do fine, too. Even without internet … 😉 Thanks, Alicia!

    • I think there are still many communities and families where respect and responsibility to one’s elders (and loved ones, of all ages) is still present. I think circumstances can sometimes make logistics very hard, with people separated by distance and spread-thin into very small family units that may struggle to accommodate extra need. But, I do believe that relationships matter, and that responsibility and interconnectedness–not only to family, but to others in the world, others on this planet, this very planet itself–can be nurtured and modeled, so children see the possibility beyond the four walls of their nuclear families. There is much to learn from the past that many don’t have the chance to experience. May we all have more room for responsible caretaking of ourselves and others. Thank you for the comment! Na’ama

    • I think you are quite right! 🙂 And if nothing else, he’ll have a good break from not-best-company and get traction in a better path. Hanging out with goats (which I happen to love and had as a child), and spending time with elders is good medicine. 🙂 Na’ama

  2. Very fluidly written, you capture the push and pull of parent-adolescent relationships very well. There are so many things we could be doing with our lives at any given time, and we often default to technological entertainment, to our own loss and detriment.

    Perhaps he will earn respect for simpler living and the hardships and joys of a less complicated ( or should I say more varied, less monochrome)lifestyle. Fresh air and hard work never hurt anyone.

    I especially like the parent’s sharp intake of breath. Perfect!

  3. I really enjoyed this, Na’ama! Adolescents who get in a whole mess of trouble should be so lucky as this young man. It will be good for him to be with his elder…

    • Yeah. I agree. Too many times teens get vilified (and derailed) for things that can have alternative solutions. I’m glad he was given the possibility of being sent away to be with an elder. It sounds like a win-win.
      I know a family where something similar took place. In that case, it wasn’t being sent to an elder but a relative who took ‘temporary custody’ for a house-arrest decision by the court, and had that teen in their home (in a town far away enough to limit issues), after the teen had fallen into bad habits following traumatic experiences. Being cared for–and about–while being away from bad influence and learning some other ways to make friends and mature a bit, was instrumental in putting this young man on a better path. It is not always possible, but when it IS possible, it can change lives. xoxo Na’ama

  4. Your dialogue is beautifully written – totally believable. And I love the way you show us that the lad has a good heart really, with his sudden realisation that his great-grandfather will be missing his great-grandmother.
    You’ve written a lovely, fluent story that is a delight to read.

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