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Thursday, January 31, 2013

“He Will Come Back, Won’t He?”

            Yesterday, my oldest daughter, Haleigh, left for Italy. She is going to study abroad with the program from Harding University. After she left, I felt the saddest emotions I have felt since… well, since we dropped her off at college back in 2011.
            I always enjoyed the writings of the late Erma Bombeck. Years ago, when I was a boy or a young teenager, she related a story that psychologists, writers, and even Ronald Reagan have shared with their audiences. It seemed so apropos to what I was feeling that I thought I would share it with you. Warning, you might want to grab a box of Kleenexes before you read!

            When Mike was three he wanted a sandbox, and his father said, “There goes the yard. We’ll have kids over here day and night and they’ll throw sand and it’ll kill the grass for sure.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            When Mike was five, he wanted a jungle gym with swings that would take his breath away and bars to take him to the summit.  And his father said, “Good grief!  I’ve seen those things in back yards, and do you know what the yards look like?  Mud holes in a pasture!  Kids digging their gym shoes in the ground.  It’ll kill the grass.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            Between breaths, when Daddy was blowing up the plastic swimming pool, he warned, “They’ll track water everywhere and they’ll have a million water fights and you won’t be able to take out the garbage without stepping in mud up to your neck and we’ll have the only brown lawn on the block.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            When Mike was twelve, he volunteered his yard for a camp-out.  As the boys hoisted the tents and drove in the spikes, Mike’s father said, “You know those tents and all those big feet are going to trample down every single blade of grass, don’t you?  Don’t bother to answer.  I know what you’re going to say – ‘It’ll come back’.”
            Just when it looked as if the new seed might take root, winter came and the sled runners beat it into ridges.  And Mike’s father shook his head and said, “I never asked for much in life – only a patch of grass.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            Now Mike is eighteen.  The lawn this year is beautiful – green and alive and rolling out like a carpet along the drive where gym shoes had trod; along the garage where bicycles used to fall; and around the flower beds where little boys used to dig with teaspoons.
            But Mike’s father doesn’t notice.  He looks anxiously beyond the yard and asks, “Mike will come back, won’t he?”
            Next time you feel irritated with your children, remember Mike’s dad.

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