by Syd Logsdon
Tim was packing for their hunting trip when his father came to his room. When he hesitated in the doorway, Tim knew that something was up, and that it wasn’t something good. He shoved another pair of jeans into the pack and said, “What’s the matter, Dad?”
“I just got a call from Mike Conway,” Tim’s father replied. “He’s come down with the flu.”
Tim stood still with his hands resting quietly on the half filled pack, waiting for the rest.
“I have to drive his rig for him.”
“How far?” Tim asked.
Tim’s father came up and put his hand on Tim’s shoulder. “All the way to Chicago. I’m sorry, Tim”
Tim wished he was twelve years old again, so he could throw a screaming fit. He had been working on his temper these last two years, trying to be fair to his family, trying to be responsible – trying to be more like his dad. If he acted childish now, if he even whined, his father would be terribly disappointed in him. He didn’t want that, so he gritted his teeth and asked, “How soon will you be back?”
“That’s the rest of the bad news. I can’t pick up his load until tomorrow morning. Figure two days each way, and at least a day to unload and load at the other end. Five days; I’ll barely be back in time to make my own next run.”
Tim couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t fair. He had waited all year for this hunting trip and now it was going to be snatched away from him. He said, “I wish we had left two hours ago.”
Tim’s father shook his shoulder in a friendly way. “Then Mike would have driven sick. I’m glad I was here for him. He has been a good friend to all of us.”
It was true. Tim knew that; but inside, the selfish twelve year old he had been was screaming, “I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!” Tim was tired of being fair. His fingers tightened on the pack. He wanted to grab it up and throw it – preferably through a window, or at his dad.
But Tim saw his father’s eyes on him. He knew the look of disappointment that would come into those eyes if he gave in to childishness, and he never wanted to see that look again. His dad said, “Tim, I’m proud of you for taking this like a man.”
Tim couldn’t reply, and he couldn’t stand those eyes on him any longer. He nodded with set lips and left the room. He headed for the woodpile.
Two years ago, the last time he had thrown a tantrum, his father had taken him out to that woodpile. He had given the axe to Tim and had told him to chop wood. After ten minutes, when some of his anger had been drained away by smashing the heavy logs into firewood, his father had said, “Everyone gets angry. Everyone wants to have things go just right, and things never do. Now you’ve got a choice to make. You can cry like a baby when you don’t get your way, or you can act like a man. The next time you find yourself losing control, I want you to get up from whatever you are doing and come out here. Work it out, then come back.”
Tim had spent a lot of time at the woodpile that year. Gradually he had gained control of himself, and as his father grew proud of him, he had grown proud of himself.
It had been nearly a year since he had gone to the woodpile to take out his frustrations, but this was no ordinary disappointment. more tomorrow