“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” ~Ambrose Bierce
Not too long ago, my 7-year-old son, Jacob, used sidewalk-chalk to write a message to me on the backyard patio, complete with illustrations of the two of us playing together.
He wanted me to see it as soon as I came home from work, so to make sure, as soon as I drove up, he ran outside to take me to it.
I hugged him and told him how much I loved it . He beamed.
Later, he got mad at me (I don’t remember why anymore) and in a fit of anger, drew a line through my name with chalk.
I have to admit that I was taken aback just a bit. That was the first time he had done something like that in anger, so I was a little surprised.
Noticing my reaction, Jacob ran off. A few minutes later, he was bawling inconsolably.
It took about an hour before he was ready tell me what had happened.
Evidently, Jacob felt bad about crossing my name out, so he got a pencil to try to erase the “X” mark across my name. He had vainly erased until not only was the eraser gone, but the metal ring that holds the eraser to the pencil was filed down as well.
His attempt to rectify the impetuous expression of anger failed.
So he started sobbing.
1. It’s always better to avoid impetuous expressions of anger because the things said or done cannot always be erased. They can linger in hearts and gather steam with the pressure of time, memory and imagination. If we’re not careful, small stings can easily become insurmountable obstacles to love and kindness. Self-control is better than trying to rebuild what we broke apart on impulse.
2. The sincerity of a person’s regret can be assessed by the degree to which the person actually tries to erase the damage. If, as one author has said, you’ve behaved yourself into a problem, don’t expect to talk your way out of it. Words are inadequate currency to pay for the damage behavior causes.
3. Home is a good place to learn lessons like these. This dad picked up his crying son and held him tight and told him how much he was loved and how much he was thought of for even trying to erase the mistake, and that we can always start over fresh and new. Life is a school ground. Moments like these are the lessons meant to instruct us. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
And so my son made a new sign with sidewalk chalk with a new and longer message to his daddy.
That one stayed much longer than the first (even after rain had washed it away).
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