“These are green beans,” I told them, “not treats.” Yet they sat watching me expectantly, one dog parked next to either knee, ears at attention, tails swishing sparkly grains of sand across the rough concrete. Occasionally Magdi’s big brown eyes strayed from my face to my hands and she licked her chops.
“Okay,” I told her, “but you’ll be sorry,” and I handed her a long, flat, raw bean. I could hardly believe it as she crunched away, swallowed and begged for another. So I rifled through the tub and found one too big and tough for human consumption. Down the hatch it went.
Chloe, who was then just over a year old, bumped my knee with her nose. “Me too,” her equally big brown eyes said, so I gave her a bean. Instantly she spat it out. “Yuk!” was written all over her furry face.
“Told ya,” I smugly commented.
Yet Magdi continued to down the culls as I found them, relishing every bite. Chloe watched Magdi, then looked at the bean she had rejected. She sniffed it and her ears drooped a bit. She looked at Magdi again, who was happily chomping a bug-bitten throwaway. Chloe looked at her bean and licked it. She looked at Magdi again, then gingerly picked up her own bean and began to chew. She managed to choke the thing down, then sat up and looked at me with that familiar expectant gaze.
“You’re kidding,” I said to her, but handed her another bean. This one went down more easily. Luckily I had a large supply of fresh-picked beans and Keith had not been too careful in his picking so I had plenty of bad ones to share. By the time I finished Magdi had long since had her fill, but Chloe was scouring the carport like a fuzzy, red-headed vacuum cleaner, scarfing up even the tips and tails that had missed the trash bucket.
Chloe was no longer a puppy, but she was still learning from her older mentor. The simple “peer pressure” of seeing someone she respected eating something she didn’t even like influenced her to do the same thing.
It’s time to look around and see whom you might be influencing. Just because there are no toddlers in the house doesn’t mean you don’t need to be careful. Whatever your age, there is someone younger watching how you handle the universal experiences of life so they will know what to do when their turn comes.
And to the other side of the equation—why do you do the things you do? Are you as strong as you think you are when the world presses you to act in certain ways? Are you doing things you don’t even enjoy just to fit in? Stop watching how others react. Stop making decisions based on something besides right and wrong. If you don’t, you may find yourself licking a rough concrete slab, eating a pile of tough, bug-bitten green beans just because everyone else is doing it.
Be careful to observe all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God. When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow after them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I may also do the same.’ You shall not worship your God in that way…Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it nor take from it, Deut 12:28-32.