Problem Child

I was a difficult child. In fact, most adults grew tired of me early on in my life. “Calm down,” they’d say. “Slow down, settle down, sit down, simmer down, climb down from there, lie down.” They said that a lot at night. “If you don’t lie down, I’ll come down there and you’ll wish I hadn’t gotten up.” This is where it got confusing for me. In the morning they’d say, “Wake up, stand up, dress up, hurry up, smarten up, pick that up, eat up, brush up, buckle up, shut up and grow up.”  Ouch. “If I grow up, will I be as grouchy as you?” I never said this, of course.  I couldn’t keep still, couldn’t keep quiet, and couldn’t keep from asking questions.


One night I was watching Mr. Porr pull weeds. “Whatcha doin’?” I asked. “Weeding the corn.”  “Why?” Mr. Porr said, “Because if one organism occupies a particular space in an ecosystem another organism cannot do so.”  I said, “What?”“There are weeds in it,” said Mr. Porr. “Weeds choke corn.”  “Why?”  “Because God cursed the ground and we’ve got weeds.”   “Why?” Mr. Porr reached for my neck and said, “Because mankind sinned and…would you like to know what   it feels like to be choked—”   I said, “Ahhhh!”


Actually, Mr. Porr was a kind man. But teachers were easy to annoy. You just ask questions like, “Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds? Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle? Why is the word abbreviation so long? Why don’t psychics win the lottery? Can fat people go skinny-dipping?” It’s a wonder my teachers didn’t glue my tongue to the roof of my mouth. Most adults hadn’t any patience for me and I don’t blame them. I’m thankful for those like my PE teacher Mr. Gamache who shook his head and laughed. “Callaway, what am I gonna do with you?” he said. I had no idea how to answer. I didn’t know what to do with me. But God delights in changing us.


I wonder if there’s a child in your life who’s driving you crazy. When this happens, the joy can vanish, for moms, dads, teachers, or truant officers. Would you do what my mom did? Keep being faithful. And pray. Ezekiel 36:26 was God’s promise to Israel but we can ask him to do this for our kids too. “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” God is at work, my friend. Give Him thanks, today.

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Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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