Linda angled into a parking space on the church lot between a cute small red car and a dented old brown pickup. Removing the key from the switch she paused before unlocking the doors. Turning towards Tommy, her six year old son, she pointed a finger at him and kept it there until he finally turned to look at her.
“Behave! I don’t want to hear a single complaint about you today. Do you understand, young man?”
Tommy, chewing on a piece of bubble gum, nodded that he did. Hearing the door latch click, he opened the door and waited at the rear of the car for his mother. She was looking in the visor mirror and flipping her hair.
Walking up the sidewalk to the church, Tommy saw a mockingbird in a Tulip tree and stopped to listen to it sing.
“Come on, Tommy. Hurry! We’re almost late.” Linda grabbed Tommy’s hand towing him along.
Mr. Ellis, one of the church’s greeters, held the door open. “Hi, Linda.” He leaned over to bump a fist with Tommy. “What do you have there, Tommy? Is that a space ship? I guess you want to be an astronaut when you grow up?”
“Well,” Mr. Ellis said, scratching his bushy eyebrow with an index finger, “what do you want to do?”
“I want to build toilets.”
“You want to build…” Mr. Ellis threw his hands up, his eyes searching Tommy’s.
“Come on” Linda said, grabbing Tommy’s arm hurrying him along. “I’m sorry Mr. Ellis, we’re almost late.” Linda didn’t know what Tommy might say about toilets. Anything could come out of that child’s mouth.
After Sunday School, Linda retrieved Tommy from his classroom and headed towards the sanctuary. Passing a restroom she shoved Tommy to the door and said, “Get in there and hurry up.”
After a long while Tommy came out.
“Did you go? What took you so long?”
“No, Mom. There were two old men in there. One couldn’t start and the other couldn’t stop.”
“Ooooohhh!” Linda groaned. “Come on.” Off they went to find another restroom.
When they arrived at the sanctuary door the first song was being sung. Linda paused, grabbed Tommy’s forearm and pointed a finger in his face. “Young man, you had better behave. Do you understand me?”
Tommy kept chewing his gum and nodded that he did.
Linda led them to a pew and squeezed past an older couple that had dibs on the end seat. Tommy sat down and began to quietly play with his space ship.
The music was wonderful and Linda felt her spirit becoming calm. When the pastor began his sermon she was quickly immersed in the text. Beth, a little girl two rows back was chattering noisily but Tommy, Praise God!, was behaving.
“Mommy” Tommy whispered after a while, tugging on Linda’s arm. “Why is that lady crying?” He pointed to a woman dabbing her eyes with a tissue.
“I don’t know” Linda whispered. “Maybe they are happy tears.”
“Huh? How do you do that?” he asked, his big brown eyes opened wide in a puzzled look.
“Hush, Tommy. We’ll talk later.”
Linda tried to refocus on the pastor’s sermon but Beth’s racket was rising in tempo and pitch. Finally, Beth’s mother snatched her up and marched out of the sanctuary.
Before they got through the rear doors Beth squalled fearfully, “Ya’ll pray!” After the laughter subsided, the pastor continued, finishing his three points and going down a few rabbit trails for good measure.
When the final “Amen” was said, Linda leaned down and kissed Tommy on the cheek. “Thanks, Tommy” she said. “You were a good boy today. I’m proud of you.”
On their way out a smiling Mr. Ellis stood at the door, holding it open. “See you next Sunday. Tommy, bring your dad if you can.”
“Dad’s a fireman, Mr. Ellis. Maybe next Sunday he can come.”
“I hope so, Tommy. Now, what did you say you wanted to do when…”
“Bye! Mr. Ellis,” Linda said, grabbing Tommy’s arm. “We must be late for something.”
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. NKJ
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