Kids today have any variety of back yard swimming pools to swim in. Some are above the ground, usually the blow-up kind or some sort of plastic thing, and others are below the ground, like the ones you might swim in at the park that are made of cement and have slides and stuff. Well when I was a kid of seven and my brother nine and a half, we had a really cool backyard pool. Now it wasn’t very deep, maybe a foot, but it had built in seats and once blown up, it was real big. In another life our pool wasn’t a pool at all, but a genuine bright yellow US Navy life raft. It was just like the ones you might see on television in a war movie. It was too big to blow up with just your breath so my mom or dad would use a bicycle pump and even then it took quite a while. Once the sides were filled with air we would turn on the hose and fill the inside with water. The two seats across the middle made a great diving platform to jump off and unlike blowup pools today, it was made of rubber coated canvas so we could be about as rough as we wanted in it. Sure, once in a while it would get a hole in it and start to leak air, but they were easily repaired with a tire patch and glue. As you might expect we played war in it and pretended it was our assault ship, using our squirt guns to hold off the enemy. It was the best!
One hot and sunny afternoon my brother and I were playing in our big yellow pool and having a great time; that is until my brother Jim, did something that infuriated me. We were wrestling around, as usual, and I was getting the worst of it. My brother would fill his mouth with water and spit it in my face; not just once but over and over again. In fact, he pinned me down with his knees on my arms and would spit water in my face and when his cheeks were empty, he’d just spit in my face. Well, I screamed for my mother to come out of the house but just as she stepped off the stoop to see what was going on, all she saw was me filling my mouth and spitting water at the back of Jim’s head. So who do you think got yelled at? I tried to explain that my actions were in self- defense and that he started it but my mom would hear none of it. She told us both that if we didn’t behave, we’d have to come in the house and sit in our room quietly for the rest of the afternoon.
Well we heeded mother’s warning for a while but it wasn’t long before the spitting war resumed. First he chased me and then me, him; all in great fun. That is until Jim grabbed the hose and unleashed a water barrage right in my face and then followed up with shots to my fat gut. Fun is fun, but he’d gone over the line so I grabbed a broom and began to chase him around the garage, trying to hit him in the gut, or anywhere else I could get him. Then I decided I would bushwhack him by hiding by the corner of the garage and wait for him to round it, him thinking that I was still in hot pursuit. What happened next is subject to interpretation, but I swear I didn’t mean to hit him in the face and not as hard as I obviously did. Jim let out a scream as the broom bounced off his face; a gusher of blood flowed from his nose and then he began to spit blood from his mouth. I froze in fear, yet unsure of what I was afraid of; that I had really hurt him or the possible punishment that would surely come my way. Or maybe it was the shock of seeing my big brother bleeding and crying out in pain; I’m not really sure what I was afraid of.
It wasn’t more than a couple seconds before my mother came bursting through the screen door, with such force that the door slammed into the side of the house sounding like a gun shot, frightening me even more. She seemed unusually calm considering the sight of my brother bleeding and all; and then, rather calmly, said to me, “Go in the house and dry off. I’ll deal with you when I’m finished taking care of your brother.” I ran into to the house and went directly to the basement, hoping perhaps that once she was finished taking care of my brother she’d forget about me; if I was out of sight and out of mind. I sat in the dark basement on an old kitchen chair trying not to hear what was going on upstairs; since I was sure my brother was tattling on me, blaming me for the whole affair. Then I decided that it would be smarter to climb to the top of the stairs and try to hear about how much trouble I may be in. But as I walked toward the stairs in the dark, I tripped over our dog, Lady, and fell right on top of her. As I started to get up, you’ll never guess what happened next.
If you remember, Lady was kind of a mean old black dog who didn’t care much for me or my brother. Heck, she even dared to growl at my dad sometimes. Well just as I was getting to my feet I heard Lady let out a low menacing growl and then I felt the pain of her biting down on my ankle. I was able to pull away before too much damage was done but what happened next is hard to understand why, or even believe. I kneeled down next to her, grabbed her leg and bit down about as hard as I could, getting a mouth full of dog hair in the process. She too pulled away before too much damage had been done. Now you might think I would have cried out or something but before I could, Lady began to howl like an old hound dog, which she was not. My reaction was strange to say the least and it was what my mother would see as she came rushing down the stairs to see what was going on. I grabbed the dog’s leg once again and sunk my teeth into it, oblivious to the black fur coating my tongue. Mother screamed while she grabbed me by the arm pulling me off the dog. Lady jumped up and shot up the stairs as if she was afraid I would be in pursuit to take another bite. It was only then that I started to cry and noticed the teeth marks on my ankle.
Mother didn’t yell or anything, but calmly took me by the hand and led me upstairs; after my brief explanation of what had transpired and an equally brief examination by mom of the damage to my ankle. I think Lady got the worst of our exchange because by the time my sobbing subsided, Lady’s teeth marks had faded and there was no broken skin or blood to testify to our exchange. I had forgotten all about my brother’s bloody nose and all that had preceded the boy bites dog incident. Honestly, I think my mother was exhausted by it all, so her only words of correction were, “Don’t ever bite Lady again, or anyone or anything else ever again. Do you understand? Now don’t you think you owe your brother an apology? He’s lying down on the bed…go tell him you’re sorry.” I did what I was told and the only thing my brother said back was, “Did you really bite Lady? Cool…”
It’s funny, I don’t ever remember our dog Lady ever growling or snapping at me ever again!
Why do you sometimes do things you shouldn’t? Why do you sometimes disobey your mother or father? (Mom or Dad: The answer is that we all disobey God’s rules, even you.)
Can you find an example of someone not practicing self-control in this story?
Can you find an example of someone not being kind, peaceful or gentle?
We demonstrate our love for others and God by being self-controlled and full of joy, being peaceful and kind, being honest and true in what we say and do, by being gentle and desiring to do good, and having patience with others (Galatians 5:22-23).