Saturday, May 30, 2009

if you judge people, you have no time to love them

in one of my classes we're reading a book called "bonds that make us free" by c. terry warner. it's not about marriage, although it really does sound like it is. it's about treating people the correct way, the way the savior would, although warner doesn't actually say it that way. anyway, he tells the story of a guy who has this teenage rebellious son named robby. he tries everything he can think of with robby, but robby still hangs out with the wrong crowd and disrupts their family. the dad comes to view robby as ruining their lives and their peace. he resents his son for this. then one day he goes into his home office and finds an essay on his computer, which had been written by tom, robby's older brother by four years, for an english class at college. i don't know if it's totally legal, but i'm posting it anyway. it really touched me, and it only looks long. give it a chance. this is the essay written by tom:

"Cowboys and Indians is our favorite--we always play, just Robby and I. At first we are both mighty braves, but I soon become Chief, and Robby my warrior. We play all day, then at night in the darkness where no one can see I say, 'I love you,' and he says it back. It is weird to say that to another boy, but I love Robby. Our dreams are like movies, to run away to the mountains, living like Indians with long hair.
"Tufts of hair fall onto the sheet hanging around my neck, one end of the hair frayed and split like a horse's mane, the other clean and sharp. Summer is the time for hair cutting. The old sheet that Mom had wrapped around my neck hangs on my body limp. I have no muscles to fill it in. Clumps of hair fall onto my lap, forming a strange pattern on the stain positioned on the sheet...Robby and I have tried to avoid this for four years now. No one else on the block has to have a butch for summer, so why do we? Mom tried to cut it alone but she couldn't catch us. She waited for Dad to return from work. He plops me onto the high chair and sits there to make sure I won't move. Robby cries also. He could care less but he wants to be like me.
"Indian style, Robby sits on the floor, his face streaked like a badly washed window, the tears cutting paths in the summer dust of his face. He looks at me like a sad sheep dog, his hair in his eyes. I am the Chief and he is my warrior. He would rather die than betray me. I have given in and am having my head shaved, so he is also.
"The buzzing of the razor sounds like the background noise of our old record player. Mom's hands feel steady as I sit in the chair. Suddenly the buzzer stops. I hear the snapping of the scissors. I'm surprised when I look at my hair in the mirror. She's not going to buzz the whole thing. I step down from the chair with grown-up hair. Robby climbs onto the chair expecting the same haircut. He steps down completely shorn, like a sheep who has lost his prize wool. We are different for the first time and we both know it. 'It doesn't matter,' I say, but it does.
"That summer I sit at the table and tell stories after Robby goes to bed. I catch him looking and listening through the spaces between the stairs. He wants to hear my stories. But I have hair and he doesn't. None of my other friends are buzzed that year either. On the fourth of July, I leave with them and he follows me like a puppy. He has always come with me before, so why not this time? I guess he doesn't know what to do without me. 'Get out of here,' I say. My friends all laugh. He keeps following. 'I'm going to kick your butt if you don't leave.' He cries, tears cutting paths in the dust of his cheeks again, and I run with my friends laughing and following me.
"The night I lie down with firecrackers ringing in my ears. The door opens a little and I see shiny cheeks and a fuzzy head poke through the opening. 'Sorry I followed you, Tom. Good night, I love you.' I don't say anything. The door closes. I turn on the radio so I won't have to think about him.
"I love Robby. We are still best friends. At family reunions we stick together. I hang out with Robby because we don' fit with our cousins. They come from another part of the country; they talk different. This year at the reunion Robby and I don't have any shorts so we take off our pants. Our tan bodies are bronze, accented by our bleached white 'Fruit of the Loom' briefs. We find a sprinkler with which we can spray the other kids at the park.
"We take turns drenching people. Suddenly I turn on Robby, spraying him until he's soaked. He doesn't say anything, just looks at me and wonders. I'm tired so he takes the sprinkler. He suddenly turns on me. The water hums as it sprays past my ear. He can drench me. He hesitates, then turns and sprays someone else. I want him to spray me back so I won't feel like such a jerk. I walk behind him, pulling down my 'Fruit of the Looms' as I go. 'Just for that,' I say, 'I'm going to pee on your back.' He pleads no. I laugh. Yellow liquid splatters on his shoulder blades, steaming a little as it rolls down the trough made by his spine, down into the back of his shorts. He doesn't move. Christie, my little sister, sees. 'I'm telling,' she shouts. I run, with Robby running after because he doesn't want to be left alone.
"Dinner is not very good anyway. Salad and squash are all we eat in the summer because Mom says we are to grow what we eat. I just want to be excused. Dad looks up from his dinner at Mom and then at me. 'Did you pee on Robby today?' he asks. Without even looking away I say, 'No.' 'Did too!' Christie retorts. Looking at Robby, Dad asks if it's true. He doesn't even pause; he has already made up his mind. 'No, I was wet from the sprinkler,' he says.
"School comes again. Our hair grows longer. We are the same again, but not really--like and ice cream cone, if it starts to melt there is no way to make it look the same again no matter how you lick it. I need money now. I steal from Dad. He never misses the money, and only Robby knows. He never tells. Soon he needs money, too. He's young and gets caught.
"Dad asks who took it. I say, 'I didn't.' 'No one is going anywhere until we find out who took it,' Dad says, trying to sound mean. I look at Robby. He has faith in me. 'Robby took it,' I say. It is silent--like when someone dies, no one knows what to say.
"The Chief has betrayed his warrior.
"It would be better if he had betrayed me. When a Chief betrays his warriors, they kill him.
"Robby just makes new friends.
"He doesn't follow me around anymore, though he would like to. He still says, 'Good night, I love you.' I only answer, 'Good night.' Once he says it twice, hoping to hear me say 'I love you' back. But I do not say it.
"I am his idol still. Anything I do, he does. What I wear, he wears. Mom even stops buying separate clothes for us. Although he never lets me know that he is copying me, he wants to be just like me. I have long hair to my shoulders in a ponytail. He wants one too. Mom says no. We are different, and we both know it.
"I leave home for several years, and when I return, my hair is short. His hair is longer than mine ever was. He hugs me, but he doesn't say 'I love you.' At night I wait for him to return from his date. When he arrives, I say, 'I love you'--twice. There is no answer. He doesn't say it, but I think my warrior loves me still."

upon reading this, robby's dad's heart was softened. the essay isn't meant as an excuse for the boy's behavior. and the book doesn't even mention if robby ever changed. what changed was the dad's heart. it was opened towards his son. he no longer resented him, he just loved him. he viewed his son in a different light, in the light of love, and THAT is what made all the difference.


Metta said...

thanks for the story. really DOES put some perspective on people and all of the unseen motives that make up who we are and why we think certain decisions are better than others. did you type up that entire essay? if so, WOW.

Sophie said...

I'd be so mad if someone peed on me.

Lees said...

Wow! I never finished that book, you have inspired me to pick it up I dare tell you that the book was used in a marriage prep class :)

Sarah said...

It sounds like the Dad should resent that son. He's a jerk! :)

But it was a good story. I wish I knew you posted it here... I would have read it weeks ago when you first told me about it.