Monday, April 5, 2010

Memories from a "Delightful" Childhood

Somewhere a frail, aged, retired elementary school teacher is sitting in her rocking chair, combing through memories of her students. She has a stack of class photos from the late '60's to the late 90's in her lap as she sips from a cup of quivering tea.

She smiles at her pictures of all those bright, shiny young faces. Boys and girls whose lives she once touched are now all grown up with children (and in some cases, grandchildren) of their own. She picks up the class picture from 1972 and smiles at each face...until she gets to the back row, far left.

Her smile turns to an evil scowl. Spittle rolls down her chin. She reaches a trembling hand out and picks up a pair of scissors from her table. Grimacing and muttering indiscernible words, she steadies her trembling hand as best she can and begins cutting the picture of one of the students out!

Cute little boy. Big smile. Blonde hair. Hole in his jeans at both knees. Wearing a blue t-shirt that has the number 18 on it...


To say that I was an outstanding student is accurate if you separate the "out" from the "standing." I was usually out standing in the hall waiting for my next encounter with the Principal.

It wasn't that I lacked correction at home. Trust me, I got plenty of that! I was just really good at being mischievous. The "imagination" side of my brain leaked over into the "think twice before you do that" side of my brain.

Back in the day when we had only wooden pews in church, most kids could get away with playing paper football during the sermon without the preacher noticing. Not me! Nooooo... I would get so into the paper football game that I would not only forget that I was in church, I would forget that my dad was the preacher!

When I heard the name "Perry" rumble from the pulpit, I knew enough Bible to know that that particular name was not in the Book. Whenever Brother Crisp had to call a time-out from preaching to gain the attention of his youngest child, I knew I was in trouble. There was no such thing as "time out" in my dad's parenting manual.

Those were the longest sermons my dad ever preached. He had my attention for the rest of the service. All I could think about was where I could hide when I got home. My plan was always the same: Sit still through the rest of the sermon. When church is over, run home, grab the cookies, and hide. Maybe -- just maybe -- Dad will forget all about the 30 yard field goal attempt that landed in Mrs. Whitmeyer's hair.

He never forgot. It didn't matter where I hid, his voice penetrated into my hiding place and drew me like a zombie out of hiding and into his bedroom. On one such occasion, I looked up at my dad and said, "Can't I just cry real hard and save us both a lot of pain?"

Discipline is not fun. But it is often needed. It's like deodorant. You can tell when someone hasn't had any. The Bible (that book that doesn't have the name "Perry" in it) tells us that discipline is a good thing. "But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects" (Proverbs 3:11-12, The Message).

The New King James Version reads a little differently: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." According to that translation, my parents were very delighted in me!

I'm thankful for the discipline I received at home from loving parents who kept me on the right path when I was prone to wander off it. I'm also grateful for a heavenly Father who loves me enough that He will get my attention with discipline in order to protect me from great harm.

My apologies to all the poor saints staring at class pictures with holes in it, and to Mrs. Whitmeyer for all the paper footballs that entrenched themselves in your bouffant hairdo during church.

I Put the Haste in Chasten,
Perry Crisp

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