“My friend Emmit” by Reva Lachica Moore

“My Friend Emmit” by Reva Lachica Moore
(I photo shopped the picture for illustration)

Imagine this conversation between a Mom and Pop:
“Look Dear, Emmit is down there again, begging for food.”
“Oh that boy! He just won’t listen. Why can’t he find his own food? Why does he wait for handouts all the time?”
“Yeah, we need to talk to him again for winter is coming. Then there won’t be free food for him.”

Sounds like a normal conversation, right? Except this is a made-up conversation (one I made) between two squirrels (a pop and a mom) up a giant Sequoia tree.

In Yosemite, J.R. and I loved the breathtaking view of Glacier Point. Then we drove to see the giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove. While waiting for the tram to roll, we decided to eat our sandwiches. This was when I encountered Emmit, the baby squirrel. I gave him that name because he reminded me of a person named Emmit who liked to depend on others for everything – too lazy to work and only wanted freebies. Emmit, the squirrel, was the same way. He scurried around the trees and cars looking for bits of discarded food; too lazy to store or dig up acorns like the other squirrels. Emmit, the squirrel, was quite friendly, though a little scared at first. He stayed under our car for a few minutes before he came out of hiding.

“Come out, little Emmit. I’ve got food for you.” I coaxed him while looking under our car.

I found a can of mixed nuts in the basket that my sister-in-law, Letty, fixed for us early that morning. So, I tossed the nuts one at a time. A little furry head showed from under the bumper, ears poised as if listening and eyes scouring the surroundings. A few seconds later, Emmit with his bouncing tail, went to where the nuts landed. He gobbled them up quickly. I threw a few more. Then a few more. Then a bunch more. Some nuts landed by my feet. Emmit wasn’t scared. He sat by my feet eating. And he ate them all. Suddenly I realized that I must have thrown out too much for his little stomach. So, I stopped. I was quite proud of what I’ve done. Imagine, giving a poor helpless squirrel free food for one day. Later, I was beaming with pride and feeling pretty good as I rode the tram.

Toward the end of the hour tram ride, the tour guide said, “OK, now that you’ve seen the giant Sequoias and see what nature has given us, I’ve only two requests I wish to leave with you: First, take all the pictures you wish to take of everything here but do not take anything out like rocks or pinecones. Imagine, if all the 3.5 million visitors who come every year would take a rock or a pinecone for a souvenir, there won’t be any left in
Yosemite. And second, please do NOT feed the animals: the squirrels, the birds, the bears, (she went on and on). Do not give them chips or nuts because they need to find their own food. At summertime, they find plenty of food–discards or food given by the visitors. When winter comes, they starve and die for they don’t know how to store for winter.

“Oh-no! I did a wrong thing. I just killed Emmit!” I whispered to J.R.

Throughout our drive back to my brother’s house that afternoon, I felt very badly for I feel I’ve already killed Emmit, for winter’s just around the corner.

I compare my spoiling Emmit with how we spoil our children. From birth, we give them too much of everything: clothes, toys, money, and food. On Christmas mornings or during birthdays, our living rooms are full of presents. There’s a Game Boy, a Nintendo, a Play Station, an X-Box, and clothes galore. Plus a new four-wheeler in the garage. Then we give them weekly allowances, $$ or presents for good school marks, $$ for doing simple chores, $$ from the tooth fairy, $$ to go shopping, $$ for just about anything.

We want our Bobby’s 16th birthday really grand; we surprise him with a new red Corvette. We shower him with designer clothes and shoes and every electronic gadget. In the meantime, Bobby spends a lot of time with his friends because we’re too busy making a living. We spend a small fortune for his senior trip and give him a Porsche during his high school graduation. We give Bobby everything, exhausting our bank accounts and maximizing up several credit cards. We feel great and give ourselves a pat on our backs for being good parents–good providers. Somehow our gift giving stops when Bobby reaches 18. He’s an adult now and we expect him to work for his needs and wants. But Bobby never learned how to work. All the time when money was plentiful money, he never learned how to save. At 18, he isn’t ready to work. He has become lazy. He doesn’t want to go to college for he’d rather be with his friends. And he’s hooked on drugs. He feels lost.

King Solomon was right when he said: “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; he will beg during harvest and have nothing. Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 20:4

We’ve killed Bobby’s desire to do well in life before he had a chance to start. (I wrote this in 2004)

NOTE: I praise God for guiding us when we were raising our sons. They did not have much (they were always the last ones to get anything. We did not reward them with money for doing well in school and other achievements). But they desired to achieve better than what we had expected from them and are very successful today.