The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 2

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In the first installment of this series, The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 1, I mentioned that I would be sharing a few examples of the unseen elephants in the room and how to insure said elephants continue to thrive and live indefinitely. The first characteristic mentioned in last week’s post was that the owner of the elephant is rarely its master. In the following short story, the roles of master and owner cross over and change.


The stack of magazines, once hidden carefully between the boy’s mattress and box spring now lies atop his neatly made bed. His mother discovered them while changing the bedding this morning. Her initial shock gives way to uncomfortable understanding. He’s not her little boy anymore. After her mind processes the whys of the situation, she begins to wonder about the where and the who. There will be hell to pay for any cashier who sold pornography to a child who is obviously under 21. She looks at the pub dates on the magazines. They’re 3 or 4 months old. Did he buy them or were they given to him? Or maybe he found them. But found them where?

The separation was difficult on everyone, but her oldest son seemed to take it the hardest. Filing for a divorce was not something she did lightly, but after discovery of the second affair, his promises seemed as empty as his side of the bed. She knew her boys needed a positive male role model in their lives. Unfortunately, their father wasn’t fulfilling that role. She grabbed the phone and dialed her soon to be ex-husband’s office. When she heard her voice–affair number two–she immediately hung up.

No, she would handle it herself. But what could she say to her son that wouldn’t cause them both embarrassment? That’s when she got the idea of putting the magazines on top of his bed. She reasoned that he would know that she knew. Surely that would put a stop to it.

When the kids got home from school, she asked them about their day just as she always did. She also mentioned she had changed the sheets on their beds, her eyes catching her oldest son’s gaze and holding it just a fraction longer than usual. As a cold sweat broke out on the back of his neck, her son said he was going to his room to play video games. He opened the door, his mind racing as he saw the stack of magazines placed so neatly on the center of his bed. What now? What would he possibly say to his mother? Then it occurred to him that she hadn’t said anything to him about them, even though it was clear she was the one who put them there. He knew his mother well enough to understand that there was often more meaning in the things she didn’t say than the things she did. And her message was clear: I know what you’re doing. Stop it now and we won’t have to talk about it. We can pretend that it never happened.

So that’s exactly what he did. He gave the magazines back to his mother’s new boyfriend and told him it was probably not a good idea to leave them at her house anymore. He also asked if he could get some tickets to the ball game. They’re all going together this weekend. Mom’s really excited that her boys seem to be bonding with her new boyfriend.

Good roles models are so hard to find these days.

Her son doesn’t look at pornographic magazines anymore. Not since his dad got him a new computer for his birthday. There’s so much more to choose from on the Internet.

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12 Responses to “The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 2”

  1. Matt @ The Church of No People May 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    A dark, but good post (and probably pretty common.) I’m just curious where you got this story. Anyway, it looks like a promising start to a series.

    • katdish May 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

      Where did I get the story? I just started writing and that’s what I ended up with. Thanks, Matt.

  2. Jason May 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    As much as it disgusts me to say it…that’s about right.

  3. Maureen May 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Oh, the missed opportunities… and the blindspots!

  4. okiewife May 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    I just erased a long comment, and will only say I avoid those elephants when possible. I like non-confrontational peace and quiet at my age. Ok, going back to my hiding place.

  5. Jeanne Damoff May 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    Wow. Powerful story and very well written. I’m impressed.

  6. Simply Darlene May 2, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    I reckon you’d get some nasty-grams from the peta folks if you discussed how to do away with the elephants rather than the proper care and feeding of said creatures.

  7. Hazel Moon May 2, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    As always your story is awesome and you never know who it will hit home to!
    Elephants all around us. There is an elephant in my story today too! Secrets and motives. These elephants need a good dose of the Holy Ghost!!

  8. jake May 4, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Kathy- let’s focus on the words and structure first. BRILLIANT.

    Now, the content. You’re bloody amazing, you hit the nail on the head!

    I can’t tell you how much I encounter THIS KIND OF THING WHEN WORKING WITH YOUTH!!! I’m not even kidding. I remember cleaning out a house once… a family had encountered multiple tragedies and basically, two orphans were living alone after their mom ended up in a coma that would eventually kill her (dramatic as it sounds, I’m not making this up). They were 17 and 14. We found the oldest kid’s porn… it was difficult to deal with because like five of us moved a bed and there it was… One of us had to sit down with a kid who had lost his parents and try to figure this same stuff out. Thankfully, it wasn’t me because I would have failed him and said something wrong. Regardless, it’s tough to see what happens in people’s lives, So difficult. I’ve even seen parents giving their kids alcohol AND weed… but the elephants in the room are hell to deal with.

    Kathy, I’m not even kidding. THis was brilliant. You did a great job piecing this one together!

  9. Maria June 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    This is my first time on your blog – I discovered it through the Novel Doctor comment section. I liked this post! Tart and to the point, and I definitely didn’t see the ending coming. Thanks and keep it up! 🙂

    • katdish June 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks, Maria. Love that Novel Doctor!


  1. The proper care and feeding of elephants, Part 4 | - June 5, 2011

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