I’ll never forget it, though I must have been only about three years old at the time.
I was sitting on my Daddy’s lap in the living room of our little duplex apartment. He was pretending that we were having a fight, though most of what he was doing was tickling me.
Getting a little too much into the spirit of the occasion, I reached up and punched him in the nose with my little fist. Suddenly the look on his face changed from fatherly amusement to something fearsome. I had hit him a little too hard.
Fortunately, it was a borderline injury and he quickly got control of his emotions. Dad’s temper wasn’t the most moderate, and things could have rapidly gone downhill with serious consequences to a certain part of my anatomy.
I’ve since been on the other end of several similar situations. One memorable occasion was when we were remodeling our house. We had bought it cheap because it was seriously fire damaged. We saved a lot of money though we had a lot of stress in the process.
Little Nathan had seen us hammering and clattering around the house and being a boy, he was eager to help as well as getting a little practice using tools for his own enjoyment. So upon finding a hatchet lying idle, he decided to put it to use.
We had saved as much of the structure of the house as possible, especially the expensive wood moldings in the various rooms. The master bedroom had some very nice chair rail around it that added a nice touch to the décor. Nate surveyed the situation and decided that the chair rail would benefit by some customizing. So he took his hatchet and proceeded to make a bold hack mark about every two inches. He was a considerable distance around the room before I came in and put a hasty end to his premature adventure into interior design.
Was he being malicious? No. Disobedient? Nah. He was just being a little boy. I restrained myself and just found something else—something scrapped—for him to hack on with his hatchet.
I once heard of a little girl who filled the gas tank of her father’s lawn mower with water, thinking that was a good thing to do. The father reacted in anger. No doubt I’ve been guilty of the same thing. But I remember enough times in my boyhood, times like when I socked my daddy in the nose, that I make an effort to be careful in discerning brattiness from innocent childishness.
Do you find this as challenging as I do? Or am I the only one (snicker…)?