August 8th…“DID YOU EVER NEGLECT YOUR FARM CHORES AND SUFFER DISCIPLINE FOR NOT OBEYING YOUR FATHER’S ORDERS?”
I could hear my enraged farmer father nearly rip the back screen door off of its squeaky hinges as he roared into the house looking for me. My immediate thoughts were…..”I’m gonna be one chunk of 10 year old dead meat!”…..”My funeral will be on Tuesday!”…..and other parallels of “suffer the wrath” type of apprehensions of imminent DOOM!!! You may wonder how I got to this point in my kid life that day? Well, here’s how things came to a boiling point.
There’s a cute saying that I’ve heard through the years and it goes something like this….”I can resist anything, EXCEPT temptation!” 😉 That kinda sums up what happened to me on that warm, late Spring afternoon when I got home from school. I jumped off of that yellow bus and waved goodbye to our friendly bus driver, Marie Meyer, and then proceeded to run into our farm home. Upstairs I flew, for I knew that part of my childhood family farm duties were to change out of school clothes and into my work bib overalls and buzz out to the barn to help Dad with the evening chores. My main task, each evening, was to feed our 15 head of Holstein dairy cows (plus other assorted livestock) and then be available to do whatever other chores Dad had that needed to be done.
As I bounced down the wooden stairs to the first floor of our farm home, some mysterious power drew me over to the black and white television set that sat in the corner of our Living Room. It was as if a wee small voice in my little boy head said, “Go ahead. Twist that knob and turn on the television. Just take a little peek at what cartoons are being shown on “Bart’s Clubhouse Cartoon Show”. “ Rather than being obedient to what I knew was expected of me by my father, I was DISobedient and turned on that television set.
Sure enough, a glance became a gleefully long line of watching cartoons like “Popeye The Sailor”, “Bugs Bunny”, Tom & Jerry” and my very favorite……”The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show”.
I lost all track of time while our cows in the barn were getting hungry and NOISY with loud, continuous “moooooing”! Their tummies were on a time clock and it was past their feeding time. Poor Daddy, he had had enough of their bellowing and came “a huntin'” for the son who was supposed to be feeding those bovine beauties. Well, when that back screen door of the house was ripped open, I was jolted from my cartoon trance and felt immediate terror for having been disobedient to what I was supposed to have done for Dad.
In his booming voice, Dad hollered out, “Whaddaya doin’ in here watching cartoons!?!? Those cows are out there bellowing their heads off cause they’re hungry!!! Now get down to that barn RIGHT NOW!!!” Since there were no battery-operated remotes in those days, I raced over to the TV and spun the power knob to the OFF position.
Red-faced with anger, Dad was standing in the kitchen as I cowered past him on my way to the barn. Just as my little boy butt cheeks passed him, his big old farm boot connected with my backside and the force of his kick actually lifted me off of the kitchen floor. My lil whippersnapper feet were already spinning in mid-air as I touched ground and I shot out that screen door like a bolt of lightning and kept that pace all the way down to our barn as I hurriedly got our cows fed and any other chores that had been waiting for me. For all the rest of that evening, while I did my chores there in the barn, whenever Dad would come anywhere near me, I would spin to face him so that my bruised backside could not be in range of his angry work boot again.
Now if I had been obedient in the FIRST place, my necessary discipline from Dad would not have occurred. And notice, I did NOT use the word punishment. The very word “discipline” comes from the word “disciple”. To paraphrase, “discipline” is a form of training someone to do a special work. Jesus had His twelve disciples and he trained them diligently to carry on His work here on earth. To the other end of the spectrum, “punishment” is a negative term and the outcome is for someone to suffer and feel shame. We children all knew our farmer father, Russell, loved us and wanted us to grow up to be responsible adults some day. This had been one of Dad’s ways to turn me in the right direction of learning obedience. With a caring heart, my daddy had the overall picture of eventual maturity in mind for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.