Child in a Manger: Chapter 10

Tracie’s parents make it to town, and take the kid into their custody before the court hearing.

How did a family get so far off track? [Allison] wondered.  When had it become more important what others at church thought about their parenting of Tracie than their actual job of raising their daughter?

Oh, I don’t know, Allison.  Maybe when they realized that there were people in their church who judged people for being charitable at Christmastime?

Just a guess.

And hey, Allison, at least Tracie’s parents didn’t go out and get high and let their little children start a fire.  At least they didn’t abandon a kindergartener at daycare and never look back.

Could any mistake a child made be bad enough for a parents to stop loving her?  That wasn’t fair, and she knew it.  Tracie’s parents did love her, or they wouldn’t have come all the way to central Indiana to be with her.

Yeah, the measure of a parent’s love for a child is how willing they are to make a short road trip.

Allison has very weird ideas about what constitute parental love…which basically boil down to her theory that all parents love their children more than life.  If they stay with a kid, they love him.  If they abandon a kid, like Madeline and Tracie, it’s because they loved them so very much.  And if they drive a kid away, then take a road trip to see her, they must have loved her the whole time.

This seems an odd and potentially dangerous attitude to have about parents.  Basically, there is nothing they can do that would make Allison think they were unloving.  Not abandonment, short-term or long-term, nothing.

She couldn’t see God ever choosing a future for her with a man who had no compassion in his heart, couldn’t even muster a little for a hurting sixteen-year-old girl.

Okay, I know this is hyperbolic of me, but what did Allison want Brock to do with this girl who confessed to a crime?  Give her hugs and candy?

On a separate note, I would like to give thanks this Wintermas season for the freedom to choose my own future, and not have to rely on some god to choose one for me.

So now that the bit players are off, it’s time for Brock to try to get Allison back.

He gives the expected and natural excuse that he was just doing his job, and I’m almost totally on his side here.

Then again, I am an evil Wintermas atheist, like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge or something.  With not a ton of compassion for a dumb kid who left her newborn “as a set prop.”

“Being tough on the girl was just part of questioning.  We had to get to the truth.”

“So that’s what you were going for?  Truth?”

Incredulous, he stared back at her.  “Of course it was.  Just what are you saying?”

Okay, guys, here we go.  In the grand tradition of Wintermas romance women judging the men they claim to love, Allison decides to take a sensitive personal revelation and use it against the person who trusted her.

“Did you really think by attacking that troubled girl you could change history and bring your mother back?”



Why would Brock want his mother back?  He has never said or thought anything remotely close to that.  I mean, I could see Brock taking his anger at his mother out on Tracie…but that’s not what Allison said.

Oh, and she’s not finished:

“You accuse Madeline of being heartless, but maybe you should look at yourself.  You’re worked so hard to lock everyone who loves you out that you can’t even see hurt in others.”

Allison knows nothing about any of that.  It doesn’t appear that Brock had anything but a good relationship with his parents.  And his last girlfriend cheated on him.

Not to mention that Allison is overlooking how sensitive Brock has been to her, and to baby Joy.

“Will you ever stop being that abandoned little boy?”

Your hurt is irrelevant, Brock!  To hell with your pain!

You can tell she really respects and cares about him.

With that final jab (Allison accuses Brock of being heartless?), she heads off, and Brock is left to reflect on how right the woman is.  Of course.

With his spiteful actions, he’d just proven he wasn’t worthy of her.

Oh sure, Brock, because she is so perfect, with her smarmy internal monologue about people who dare to give to the needy during the holidays.  And her sympathy for a manipulative, partying woman who should never have had a child…over the man that child grew up to be.

Anyway, there’s only one solution to this problem—time for Brock to pray!

I can’t believe we are at the point where we can do a side-by-side comparison…it’s a Wintermas miracle!

You may remember that Jesse Slater’s prayer was pretty heart-wrenching:

“Lord, I know you’re up there watching.  I’ve always believed You were real, but I don’t know you very well.  Not like Lindsey and Clarence do.  I have no right to ask favors, but maybe You’ll do this one thing for Jade.  Help me find her, Lord.  Show me where she is.”

“Was it me, Lord?  Have I done something so bad that everyone I love gets taken away?  Mama and Erin are gone.  Don’t take Jade.  I’ll do anything.  Anything.”

Here is Brock’s:

Lord, we haven’t talked in a while, so this might be too much to ask, but I need Your help.

That’s…all we get of the actual prayer.  Though we are informed that Brock “laid the whole situation in God’s hands.”

It’s pretty sad to think that good ole Jordan Scoville is the closest we’ve ever gotten to an actual nonbeliever in these stories.


The next day, Allison gets a call from her boss that she doesn’t need to go to court…because they won’t be filing charges of abandonment against Tracie!

Like her forebears, Allison is in no way ready to trust or believe in the man she claims to love:

She doubted Brock’s reaction to the prosecutor’s decision would be as solidly in Tracie’s court as Clara’s had been.  She wondered whether he would take the girl’s release as a personal affront…

But the joke is on Allison…who learns that Brock is the one who spoke to the prosecutor on Tracie’s behalf!



Posted on December 24, 2014, in Books, Child in a Manger, Christmas. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Never mind Brock’s prayer, I want to know what he said to the prosecutor. “Yeah, she did do it, but y’know it’s Christmas and I’m sure she won’t do it again. Also I have Jesus in my heart now.”

    • This county doesn’t even put you in jail if you use drugs and leave your five-year-old twins home alone, where they get burned in a fire. So I suspect your scenario is, if anything, more effort than Brock had to actually put in.

  2. Basically, there is nothing they can do that would make Allison think they were unloving.

    Probably a habit, learned from rationalizing how much God loves her no matter what happens to her or how unhappy his “plan” for her life makes her feel.

    • When had it become more important what others at church thought about their parenting of Tracie than their actual job of raising their daughter?
      A: Did we miss something? What exactly are the parents doing to even vaguely deserve this comment?
      B: Fair’s fair, those churches teach by example: It’s more important for the church to not look like a hive of sexual abuse than to not be one.

      She couldn’t see God ever choosing a future for her with a man who had no compassion in his heart, couldn’t even muster a little for a hurting sixteen-year-old girl.
      Ugh, again with the defering of responsibility. Note that when she berates him, she doesn’t ever mention god or his salvation or whatever (Brock realized that he needed to pray on his own, like all unbelievers know deep in their hearts), she’s just pissed of herself. Textbook case of your god happening to hate all the same things and people you hate.
      (Oh, and a good message to any readers with troubled or abusive relationships: God wouldn’t have chosen a bad man for you, so YOU DISOBEYED GOD YOU REBELOUS WRETCH!)

      Poor Brock just has no luck with the women in his life, does he? From his mother who dumped him in a kindergarden without looking back, to his cheating ex, to a judgemental verbally abusive harpy who wants him to know that everything that’s wrong is his fault. Maybe he should switch teams and date some men for a change (you can just change your sexual orientation on a whim, right?)

      • (you can just change your sexual orientation on a whim, right?)

        I think you need to be recruited into the lifestyle by Hollywood liberals. That’s why it’s so sinister, and not something deserving legal protection. It’s not like religious beliefs, which never form due to social pressure and organized propaganda campaigns, and certainly can never change over the course of one’s life.

        • Religious beliefs can change, but only in the direction of being more right (i.e. towards the speaker). Any change away from the speaker means they were faking it all along and not true believers..

    • Have an internet my friend.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for December 26, 2014 | The Slacktiverse

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