Straightening up and flying right

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

     My daughters warned him and so did his mother, but he would not listen. He wanted to be heard and he would be heard.
    As I entered the room, those persons who knew better fell silent. As the lone holdout, my youngest daughter whispered,     “Don’t do it.”
    “Dad, I don’t wanna work.”
    Those famous last words were coming out of the mouth of my only son. Or at least the mouth of the boy we left the hospital with.
I’m not sure what I said next. It was all such a blur. There was a crack in the earth, and then my wife claims she thought I blacked out for a moment.
    “You what?” I asked.
    The poor child repeated the statement. The dog lowered his ears and tail and left the room.
    “Listen here son. You don’t have a choice in the matter. This issue was settled a long time ago in the Garden of Eden.”
    “But I want to be like you,” he said.
    This time his sister jumped in.
    “What? Daddy works!”
    “No, I mean like you were in high school.”
    To paraphrase a line from the film The Color Purple, I told him, “All my life I have had to work. I had numerous jobs when I was your age. I always had my own money because I went out and made it happen.”
    “I am not saying I don’t wanna work forever, just right now,” he replied.
    With that proclamation, some of the humans present joined the dog out of the room.
    I don’t know what it is about this generation. Perhaps because the fridge has never been empty, my son cannot imagine it empty. Maybe he thinks that the light fairy is responsible for keeping our lights on. Or perhaps he believes electricity came with his game system.
    I don’t know what he thinks, but I do know that what my son was thinking wasn’t right.
    Instead of heading to the gym the next morning to lift weights and practice basketball, I got my son up and took him to work. I was remodeling a house and I put his tall athletic skills to work painting the ceiling.
    Once he completed that task, I allowed him to sand the floors. He was reluctant at first, and perhaps a bit passive-aggressive, but what was he going to do? Fight me? Unfortunately, that too would require work.
    As my son went about his various duties, I heard him say, “I should have kept my mouth shut.”
    “No, I needed to know what was inside your heart, so that I could take the steps now to correct it,” I replied. “Some day you may be a husband or a dad. You have a choice in that, but you don’t have a choice in being a man.”
    I opened the Bible and read to him relevant scriptures. “If a man doesn’t work, he shall not eat. A little slumber a little folding of the hands makes a man poor.”
    That passage scared him.
“So are you saying I’m gonna be poor?”
    “I didn’t say it, the Bible said it,” I answered. “You cannot play video games, then go to sleep, and expect to make something of yourself.”
    Over the course of the next couple of weeks, my son’s personal life went through a transformation.
    First, he got not one, but two jobs. His actions indicated he was doing what was requested, but his facial expressions said otherwise.
    I thought about the woodshed and that rod of correction, but then I remembered we don’t have a woodshed.
    Instead once again I turned to scripture.
    I pulled my son aside, looked him in the eyes and read a passage.
    “When I was young, I spake as child and did as a child, but when I became old I put away childish things.”
    “Son, it’s time,” I said as I closed the Good Book. “Go and do likewise.”

 
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