I was cleaning the tank so my nephew could play in water for a good hour or two. It started to tire me out real quick. I’ve been so out of shape. I haven’t exercised for the past three months. None whatsoever. My tummy doesn’t let me bend beyond a point. I am squatted, my teeth clenched, a scowl on my face and I am brushing the floor vigorously, of this crossover between a bath tub and a mini swimming pool.
When he calls me I pause to catch my breath and remind myself to not be grouchy, like my mother or her siblings would be—the milk boiled over, “Tch! one sec… don’t talk to me.” Swerved too close to that bike, “Gosh! Can you stop talking?! I’m driving!” Stubbed a toe, “Here! you bloody well drink this without fussing!”
Unpredictable adults; It felt terrible to be around them as a kid.
So, I remind myself to not be that. Clearly, I’m not a parent. Else, I would have no time for such magnanimity. “What?!”, I would've barked.
But I’m only an uncle, so I can chill the freak out.
In fact, I am having a very busy morning. Right in the middle of my cleaning I am thinking to myself ‘why did I start this now? It is going to take me another forty minutes. And I have to get back to that thing I left midway to do this.’
He has now moved on to finding a stray cat that he just fed milk, but insists she needs more because "she is still hungry". Don't ask me how he knows that. He has dropped everything and has gone looking for "Kitty".
It doesn’t seem like he will play in the tank. Even my enticing proposition, that the water will be naturally warmed by the hot sun, is not helping. Summer is round the corner and the rash on his cheek from the mango sap, gobbling early mangoes of the season, is proof.
So—why am I doing this when it isn’t priority? And then I have to convince him to play and he may not even enjoy it thoroughly, but I feel compelled to make the effort.
Because somebody else cleaned a tank for me to splash water around, when I was 8; and did a lot more.
You need to pay it forward. That is why you do it.
You do it for you.