The dance was coming up on a Friday and it was all he could talk about. On the Wednesday prior, just as Karen was walking out the door to pick him up from school, the phone rang. It was Philip’s English teacher. She began the conversation by talking about great our older boys had been and how she knew we had high standards as parents. Then she went on with the reason for her call.
It seems that Philip had been getting a bit big for his britches in her class lately…talking out of turn, always cracking jokes, making sure that the attention was always focused on him. She talked about how Philip would swagger down the hall and said that sometimes his actions bordered on disrespect. Not good. Apparently she had spoken with other teachers and they were having the same problems with him.
Karen told her in no uncertain terms that we would fix this issue and that she could rest assured that there would be no further problems.
Karen was mad. Not so much because of this incident, but because this was another incident. From the time Philip could first walk and talk he had been leading his peers. Almost every year we received a phone call telling us that, “Philip is a leader,” and “Whatever Philip does the rest of the class wants to do as well”…and on and on…we could almost recite the calls from memory. Philip’s response was that he didn’t ASK other kids to follow him, so he was having trouble seeing why this was his problem. Sigh.
Each time we got one of those phone calls we lowered the boom. The punishments we had levied were tough, but apparently they hadn’t been tough enough.
Karen arrived about 15 minutes late to pick up Philip from school because of the phone call. She was already mad, so it didn’t help matters that his first words to her were “Mom, why are you late?”
“Well,” she said. “Let me tell you…”
She proceeded to recount the conversation with his teacher. The longer she went, the bigger Philip’s eyes got and the lower he sank into his seat. She finished her lecture by informing him that it didn’t matter that I was on business in Dallas…they were calling me, immediately. After Karen and I talked for a moment, I asked to speak to Philip. This is what Karen heard.
Long pause….”Yes, Sir”
Another long pause “Yes, sir”
Yet another pause “OK, sir”
And then we hung up. Karen asked what I had said and Philip replied “He said it would be swift, tough, and something I would not soon forget”
When they got home Karen sent him straight to his room. She was so angry and disappointed she could barely look at him. She called me again so we could talk more about it. We knew we had to make a big impression. Taking away the Christmas dance that he was looking forward to so much seemed like the right level of punishment, but Karen felt like it would have even more impact if Philip had to wait until I got home the next night to find out.
So Karen went upstairs and gave Philip a lecture about how his actions reflect on the whole family. And she cried, which just KILLS them. She told him that he had to stay in his room the rest of the night and that he would have to wait for me to come home the next night to find out his punishment. Then she made him copy the saying from a poster we have about the value of upholding the honor of your family name.
The next day Karen picked Philip up from school and he heaved a big sigh. “Only 4 more hours until dad comes home.” Then he told her about his apologies to the two teachers.
My flight ended up being delayed, so Philip had to wait even longer to find out his fate. He was dying. After looking at the flight schedule we realized that I wouldn’t make it home before Philip needed to go to bed, so Karen went ahead and told him that he wouldn’t be allowed to go to the dance. She also told him that I would be taking him to breakfast in the morning so we could have a father-son chat.
He didn’t know exactly what that was going be like, but he was clearly relieved that the dance was his big punishment.
When I got home that night I was really struggling to figure out how to make an impact on Philip that would last. We felt like we were at a critical point with him and wanted this to be memorable! Normally I sleep like a rock, but I tossed and turned all night trying to figure out what I was going to say. Right before I got up the next morning, it came to me.
I took Philip to Hardees. As we stood in line and looked at the menu, I asked Philip what he wanted. I told him he should get something really good. Philip decided on the Loaded Omelet Biscuit. I decided on the same.
We sat down and prayed then as Philip reached for his biscuit I told him to wait. I took Philip’s biscuit from the wrapper in front of him and opened it up. Then I scooped out the insides and threw them away. Philip was horrified, “Dad!”
Then I said. “Philip, you have been givenso many gifts and abilities. You have amazing potential. You go to a great school, you have lots of friends, and you are gifted athletically. You have been given a “loaded omelet biscuit” life. But you know what? Because of the choices you are making, you are settling for just a biscuit. You have been given so much but you are choosing to settle for less.”
Philip just sat there with his head down.
Then I took my own biscuit, opened it up, scooped out the center, and threw that away. This was almost more than Philip could handle. “DAD!”
I looked at him again and said. “You know Philip, every day your mom and I send you out the door to school and think “there goes our loaded omelet biscuit boy…the one with so much potential and so many gifts”. But you know what we found out? We’re not getting the loaded omelet biscuit we were expecting; we’re just getting a biscuit. Philip, you need to remember that the choices you make affect other people too. So today, I am just going to eat the biscuit.”
God offers each of us the potential for a “loaded omelet biscuit” life.
The question for each of us is whether we will choose to accept the amazing things He has in store for us, or whether we will waste the good stuff and settle for less.
originally published 10/31/11| next post He Peeked at me!