Lately, I often find myself at work much later than I ought to be. I should be at home with my family, but instead I find myself here at work.
So tonight the phone rang. It was Tori, my second daughter and fourth child, asking me to print out a school paper (see the text below) she had typed up and emailed me (our printer at home hasn't worked for a while). Upon opening the document, I find a creative fictional story about her breaking a window at school with a BB gun, and her older brother taking the blame in order to spare her the pain and discipline of the transgression. I'm pretty sure the story is pure fiction, unless there was something I missed over the years...
Let me just describe to you the immense thrill I have in reading this story. This story contains the key elements to any excellent human drama, which usually include:
- Transformation or Change
But this one goes the final mile. It includes the element of Sacrifice, which I consider to be the pinnacle of human drama. If a story doesn't portray sacrifice, it is relegated to the catagory of "neutral narrative," as far as I'm concerned. I guess I'm kinda old and bored with human drama, because if there's no sacrifice, there's no real story for me anymore.
So here's the thrill for me: In her story, Tori's older brother, Chason, takes the blame for her wrongdoing, demanding nothing from her in return. This tells me some things:
- She understands the Gospel: that Christ suffered in our place, taking upon himself the punishment for our sins.
- She loves her brother, so much that she writes about him, portraying him in such a noble, Christ-like character.
I really can't put into words the joy this story brings me, though I'm sure that to her, it's just another silly assignment. I'm reading a lot into this, I know, but simply put, it makes me happy. If my children love each other, then I have achieved something, and in that acheivement,
by Tori Foy, 2012
It was one of those summers, when as young kids all we wanted is to play all day long, barefoot and happy. From frog-hunting to playing in the front lawn sprinklers, we always found something to do in our little cul-de-sac just behind Abraham Lincoln Elementary. On that hot, July Saturday, our minds all wandered straight toward a BB gun war. Just seven years old, and growing up with four brothers, three of them being older than me, I learned how to play tough.
When it’s sunny outside, not too hot and perfect popsicle weather, it was a day not wasted for us kids. We gathered up all our friends on Stacie Way, along with their BB guns. We all met and huddled together in the center of the boiling black top. My oldest brother, Chason, announced the game plan and noticed the corners of everyone’s mouths curled up into an ear to ear grin, showing they obviously loved the idea. We follow close behind Chason, like ducklings trailing behind their mother; through the front gate, passed the rocking bench, into the backyard and quickly filed straight across the bridge over-passing the ice-cold, trickling creek. The gate opens up to a wide field, full with knee-high grasses and weeds. We all run down the gravel trail that leads to the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School grounds, our faces beamed rays of joy like the hot sun beating down on our freckled cheeks. Everyone was so eager to enter the pea-gravel playground, which was nothing but the best location, full of wall ball barricades, play structure obstacles and wide open space which were very necessary for our battlegrounds.
Once we get up there we split into two groups of seven, gathered in our separate teams to talk about the entire x’s and o’s then establish boundaries and coded signals. Each person carefully lowered our voices to a whisper as to not give away any secrets. We took our places, loaded our guns and kneeled down below barricades, hiding ourselves from the faces of our opponents.
“Ready, aim, fire!” proclaimed Chason, the leader of the pack.
Pew! Pew! Pew! BB’s flew by me, one at a time, on all sides. It was like dodging toxic rain-drops; one wrong move and you were out. If not for our thick vests, long jeans and sturdy tennis shoes we would be coming home with welts and bruises all over ourselves. My right hand man was down, so I called someone over to drag him behind the cement planters, into safety. There were three men still standing on the opposite team and four of us; we were coming down to the wire and every move must be taken very critically. I spotted an enemy in the corner of my eye and swiftly ducked behind a bush and rolled behind the burly shrubs. I had my opportunity with a clear shot for the last man standing. I took it without hesitation and the results made my heart drop to my stomach.
Crack! All I could hear were shards of glass pelting the ground in slow motion as the window, which just happened to be the largest one in the cafeteria, instantly shattere into a million tiny pieces. All that was left was a jagged edge on the windowsill, just waiting to effortlessly inflict pain upon me. My eyes widened as my mind rushed back to reality. I noticed everyone’s head turn to peer over their shoulder as they responded with loud gasps and cringes pointed towards the horrible sight. I shuddered in terror and the only thing left in my vacant mind was the punishment that awaited me. By now everyone had ran home, frantically; hanging onto the thread of hope that no one witnessed the scene. Chason and I remained there, our eyes dried from the dreary sight that beheld us. We looked at each other and took off like bullets out of a gun.
After what felt like forever, we finally reach our house that should have felt like safety, but instead, like a huge boulder weighing down my shoulders. I sank myself in my bed, avoiding the hammer of discipline. I knew just how my parents would react when they found out that I outright rebelled against my innocent nature and shy disposition. The doorbell rang and my heart started racing. It beats faster and faster until I heard my mother open the door and I scattered to my feet and stop cold.
“Excuse me ma’am, I got a report from a neighbor a block or so down, saying that they witnessed a large group of children break a school window and flea towards this house?” the monotonous sheriff stated.
“Kids, get in here!” my mother yelled. I took my sluggish steps towards the door and let it slowly creek open as the entryway came in view. I sulked slothfully down towards the entryway, and joined up with Chason along the way. “Did you guys break a window? Was it really you?” I started to stutter uncontrollably and fragments of broken up words start spilling from my lips.
“It was me, Mom. I did it.” I glimpsed over at Chason, who generously took the blame for me, knowing how scared I was, for I had never been in such trouble as this. I stood by guiltily but also grateful for his kindness, as I listened to the bleak conversation passing through my head, like letters in my alphabet soup, steadily numbing the pain. Eventually the conflict was resolved, payment plans had been made and punishments received. All I could do was look at him with big, thankful eyes and he just smiled and returns to his room without a single word.
The weeks gradually passed, eventually dismissing Chason from the absence of desserts and his free time being spent facing his bedroom walls while “thinking of what he had done”. And for me, I skated on by, unscathed but still guilty as ever. I guess that’s just how life goes; sometimes you mess up and take the blame but occasionally you get of scott free.