Boys and Men

Sometimes through a stressful situation, you get a look into someone else’s life and you realize how closely you are connected to them. Last night as I drove home from a meeting, I got a window into a fractured home. A little Honda lay like a turtle on its back in the roadside ditch. Two teens, ages 17 and 15, scrambled up onto the country road as I stopped to help. They were two scared puppies, glad they weren’t hurt. Their thanks to Providence didn’t include the humility of truth.

The older boy seemed more focused on making me complicit in his version of the accident than in rescuing his car. He said, “I hit black ice … wasn’t familiar with the road … was only going 5 mph over the speed limit” (later amended twice). Then he insisted I say nothing about his companion.

I asked what that was about. He said he’d just gotten his license and wasn’t supposed to have passengers. What? Am I his principal? His dad? I told him to call his parents. Although I could hear only his side of the conversation, it revealed a high order of dysfunction within that house. The exchange of blame and denial, yelling, and lies were beyond the bounds of respect. He accepted no responsibility; the black ice caused the accident.

The nearest roadway black ice was probably 50 miles up in the foothills—certainly not on that straight stretch of road. His Honda was in the ditch because he had driven it there. I didn’t need the boy’s excuses but he saw me as an authority figure to convince. I gently told him that he was always responsible for the operation of his car—though it was an accident. He didn’t want to hear it.

I asked for his phone to reassure his parents. What I got was a single mother, almost desperate to handle a son who bullies her to avoid personal responsibility. I saw him as an anxious young man who’ll be in many scrapes unless someone gets hold of his life. Unfortunately, there are many such young men who need the strong presence of a loving, wise father.

The Old Testament has many admonitions to care for the fatherless and the widows. Every child should have both a mother and a father. When that isn’t possible, Scripture reminds us that God defends the cause of the fatherless, the widows, and the aliens (Dt 10:18). Much as he did in the lives of my two brothers and me and our mother …


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
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6 Responses to Boys and Men

  1. samuelehall says:

    John, there wasn’t much I could do, other than call 911 to alert the sheriff that no one was hurt. I talked with his mother and advised her to get a wrecker out there to prevent thieves from stripping the car.
    The boys were going to take me up on my offer to take them to their church group but they called friends, who were “going to help them get it out of the ditch.” That was a dumb idea–would do more damage to the car dragging it out with whatever they had + potential danger to them in it tipping over and crushing somebody. But they knew better. I finally realized they were smarter than I was and simply left.

  2. samuelehall says:

    Well, John, the boys didn’t leave me much choice. I talked to the boy’s mother and got her calmed down a bit; suggested that she get a wrecker out there right away; otherwise, thieves were likely to strip it during the night. I also contacted 911 so a deputy could be alerted that no one was hurt.
    And with the boys: the older one was working the phone, calling friends. I told him–several times–to turn the headlights off, get their valuables out of the car, and that I’d take them to the Slavic church, their destination. At first, they were ready to go but after I told the driver that he was still technically responsible for his vehicle (he didn’t like to hear that), he said his friends would come and they’d get it out of the ditch. A really stupid idea–even if they were able to drag it out, they’d do more damage to the car than an experienced wrecker. Plus, there was the possibility of someone getting hurt, trying to tip it over.
    But he didn’t know what he didn’t know and wasn’t going to follow my suggestions. I had no choice but to leave.

  3. Jerry says:

    That’s a fine posting that you present, Sam. It reminds me of the deep appreciation that I have for my loving father and mother and the values that they instilled in their children. As a depression-era couple, they had little in material assets but much in the intangible assets. A child can gain the value of such assets from a single parent, but I am happy to have had both parents in my life.

    I worry about the financial condition of our country with so many single-parent homes. Our economy is no longer suited to a single income family, it seems. In this season it might be appropriate to find a way to assist those who are feeling the pinch of the economy. Our community has a means of adopting a poor family during the Christmas season to provide gifts (clothing, toys, etc.) that have been requested by the chosen family. Another couple and we have for a couple of years adopted such a family and have helped that family have a better Christmas. I recommend it for those who find that opportunity.

    Have a joyous season!

    • samuelehall says:

      You know, Jerry, we don’t realize how blessed we were until we run onto a situation like this. Plus, you and I were probably experienced enough to know when we had to get qualified help; e.g., to get that car out of the ditch.
      We’ve “adopted” families in the past, so know how important your gift is. Angel Tree is a good orgn. for kids whose fathers/mothers are incarcerated.
      Indeed, the bane of one-parent homes is reflected in stats on food stamps, the near-doubling of school lunch recipients, etc. The holidays are lean times, ’cause those kids don’t get the free meal at school.

  4. Glen Kirkendall says:

    AMEN! And AMEN, Sam! My experience has proven how God intends for it to be for the children. Your experience defines how it is when circumstances are otherwise…

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