Each of my five boys has a story or two from their childhood that gets repeated over and over by family members above all others.
For our fourth son, Jesse, it is the time he was about seven or eight years old – celebrating his August birthday. He was opening some presents and displaying a very snarky and totally unappreciative attitude about the whole process. So, to fix it, we took his presents away and did not give them back to him until Christmas! He’s been a thankful child ever since!
However, that story is in jeopardy of being replaced by another that happened here today. Jesse may be about the most intense and disciplined person I’ve ever known. He is currently on pace to read about 120 books this year; he turns in written assignments to professors a week or two in advance; and he will pack for a trip about four day before departure!
Well, today he called home from the library at the University of Maryland at College Park – where he transferred just this semester to matriculate into the Smith School of Business. Apparently he was studying in a corner of the library, when after a time of encroaching darkness realized upon investigation that the library had actually closed two hours previously! So he called the campus police to come extricate him by unlocking the doors! I don’t think that happened to me at college.
So, what are the other boy stories? Here is a sampling from each:
Nathan: His little girl Bella is taking after him with a fascination with listening to recorded Bible stories at bedtime. It is amazing what Nathan learned and recalled from this very young, pre-school-age ritual. One night after having gone to bed, he came to the top of the steps and yelled, “Daddy, back in Bible times, people had arms, right?” And I said, “Yes, of course, why would you ask that?” And he replied, “Because here on my Bible story tape about the Israelites escaping from Pharaoh, they said to Moses, ‘How can we fight the Egyptians, we have no arms!’”
Benjamin: Most of Benjamin’s stories involve the pilfering of forbidden foods – always containing sugar. All the boys did this to some extent, but none quite like Ben. One of their targets was stealing frozen mini-marshmallows from the chest freezer in the basement. On a particular occasion, Diana found a bag of thawed-out chicken parts that had been accidently not put back inside when a theft occurred. She gathered all the boys (only 3 at that time), and demanded to know who’d dun it! Everyone professed innocence. But Ben blew his own cover – while touching the bag and saying, “That’s funny, they felt like bones yesterday!”
Aaron: As the third oldest, he was at times the innocent bystander of conflict between the two older brothers. I know, I know – picturing the Aaron we know today as the quiet bystander of ANYTHING is difficult to believe. One night at the dinner table, there was a conflict between Nathan and Benjamin that caused me to go off on both of them rather severely … or at least such that, when I was finished, a total hush fell over the dinner table. Suddenly, Aaron simply said in a quiet, matter of fact way, “I’m always a good boy!” Diana and I totally lost it!
Caleb: When he was quite young we were visited by some of our Texas family. We took a day to visit Washington and see the sights there. We were walking through Arlington – where Caleb ran ahead of the rest of us and jumped up and sat on a post. As we got close to him, he said with a slight grin, “I’m stuck, I can’t get down.” His shorts had bunched up under him, and he could not move in any direction. I really did think he was kidding, and so I just told him to stop fooling around and jump down. At that point, he broke into a flood of tears, “I really am stuck here; I can’t move!!” Since you see his 6’2” presence around church, you know that I did not leave him there! Actually, just a few weeks ago when in Philly on the way home from the Jersey shore, Caleb re-enacted the situation on a post in front of Independence Hall… and here is the picture: