“Because I am a father, I will Teach you the lesson before I punish you. Life will Punish you before it teaches you.”
As you may know, I met Charles out at a bar late one night with my Uncle Lamar. He was warm, friendly and very insightful. When the discussion of college came into play he started to rattle off the perspective of a much more learned individual. Perhaps this is a topic that he happened to ponder himself. I don’t know. But even after hearing about my steps to remove myself from college, Charles invited me out to play cello with his son, Michael. I accepted.
I didn’t know what I was getting into. When I walked through the door I was warmly welcomed by a familiar face. Charles greeted me with a hug. Shortly after, only a room away, I met the same face, only a little smaller.
“That’s Michael. Michael, say hello to Levi!”
Michael replied shyly at first. I suppose, at the age of seven, adults are hard to talk to. But after the pleasantries he perked up. If you know children then you understand multitasking. I spent most of the night talking with Charles while Miles attempted to intercept the conversation. But in between interludes of playful glee I was introduced to a few old friends. Namely, Love and discipline.
Michael was excited to show me his cello skills at first. Little did he know, it was his father’s intention to make sure Michael practiced his music thoroughly. Once Michael arrived at the final few attempts of his music, he became distraught and bitter. But even through all the tears, his father patiently asked Michael to play the music.
I know a thing or two about music, I may even know a little bit about teaching, but I know nothing about parenting. There are some things in life that you must surrender ignorance to. And I know nothing about parenting.
Charles persistently told his son “One more time,” because he knew. He knew that his son was throwing a fit, and he knew that his son was in no danger of being hurt. He was firm, and he knew that he couldn’t give up (Charles seriously has some nerve to discipline his son in front of me).
“In life, there are going to be many things that you do not want to do Michael. And when they occur you have to do them without crying and without throwing a fit. So when I ask you to play one more time, I’m asking you to do it without making a scene.”
I wasn’t impressed nor was I surprised. Because these were the exact tactics that my father used on me at one point. These were familiar. But as I observed I finally got to see what it looked like externally. I got to see how effective it was. I got to see how loving it was.
After cello we played baseball. After baseball we had hot chocolate. And after hot chocolate I read Michael a bedtime story.
Michael (all dressed in his jammies) and his father walked me to the door. Michael said goodnight and left Charles and I out on the porch. Then Charles extended some of his Love to me.
“Life will punish you, and then give you the lesson.”
It’s one of those things that you’ve always known, but never realized. He told me what everyone tells me. “Heed your parents words.” But his delivery was so drastically different that I believe that it will never go forgotten.
Then he gave me a dollar and told me that my journey is protected by an act of charity.
“Take this dollar with you to Florida to protect you. And once you’ve gotten there, pass it on to someone who needs it.”
Feeling somewhat like a child again I take the dollar and fold it neatly. I place it in the sleeve of my wallet away from the rest of the money.
I’ve never been very good at keeping money, but this dollar I will keep, if I can. I’ll take it with me as far on my journey as I can. And once I realize there is another who stands to benefit from this act of charity more that I, I will pass it on.
I’ve had such a good fortune of running into people who are willing to give so much to me. I’m not sure if it is because of who I am, what I’m doing, or just the powers that be. But I do know that one day my luck will run thin and I will have to give into the one thing that I’d hoped never to do. Perhaps then, I will go back to college one more time.