Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: "What did I do to deserve this?"
By Charles Salmon
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“If I were you, I’d put the fish in the kid’s bucket.” This advice came from a fisherman standing to my right. From my left, came the same advice. “I would, too.”
My son, then twelve years old, and I were fishing on a party boat out of Galveston. These boats charged a fee for each passenger and fished the oyster beds and spoil banks of Galveston Bay. The crew provided each customer with a five gallon bucket to hold any fish he caught.
The advice I got related to one of the customs among those who fished on such boats. Someone would pass a hat and a notebook so anyone who wished could put a dollar in the hat and sign the book. Then, whoever caught the biggest fish won the “pot.” A bit of a pessimist, I seldom added my name to the book.
However, to heighten the excitement for my son, I tossed in a dollar and signed his name. Now the book listed twenty-five names. Mine was not among them.
By now, alert reader, you’ve probably guessed who caught the biggest fish that day. I did! It was no monster, but it was by far the biggest of the day. Apparently this created no dilemma to the fishermen on either side of us. (Men who, as one might guess, were not in the running for the biggest fish.) “Put it in the kid’s bucket,” they agreed.
I didn’t. I wasn’t even tempted. I taught my children from a very early age to be honest. A father does not, I reckoned, present his twelve year old son with such an example if he expects teachings about honesty to be taken seriously.
I’ve often heard grieving parents whine, “what did I do to deserve this?” The rhetorical question often follows some embarrassing, painful, or costly deed by their children. I’m sometimes tempted to answer, “It isn’t what you did. It’s what you failed to do and what you failed to teach.”
Parents, we need to begin at a very early age to teach our children some things are more important than money; things like honesty, discipline, and generosity. Once a child reaches adolescence, these traits are much more difficult to teach. If we expect our children to become responsible adults, we need to begin teaching early and we need to present a consistent example.
While I’m at it, let me stick in a plug for Sunday School, youth meetings, and worship. These are times when Christian values are taught. They are important to all of us, but especially for the young and the very young. Solomon wrote, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Prov 22:6 New International Version.)
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