The BB Gun and the Plate Glass Window

Once there was a boy who disobeyed his mother. When confronted with it, he confessed it to her (under some pressure), but when she sought to talk to him about it, he muttered something about how he had done most of what she had said. She tried to talk to him about this, but he was in one of his stubborn moods. “I said I was sorry,” he said. “And I think you don’t understand how much of the time I do obey you.”

The mother knew that he was sorry about what he had done, but she also saw clearly that there was something about obedience that he did not get. She talked to her husband on the phone about it so that he would not walk into a situation when he got home that time, and so the boy’s father had time to mull over the situation during the course of the afternoon. When he got home, they had about a half an hour before dinner, and so he told his son to go get his BB gun, and they would go do some plinking in the barn.

When they got out there, the father went over to the far wall and along the far wall, he arranged a set of old windows they had taken out of the house. There were about three frames with 12 French panes each in them, and one large plate glass window.

“I am taking these to the dump tomorrow,” the father said. “I thought it might be fun to put some holes in them first.”

Of course, his son was overjoyed, and as the father named a particular French pane, the boy would try to shoot it out. He was a good shot, and did fairly well. Then the father told him to put a hole in the lower right hand corner of the plate glass window, which he eagerly did.

“Now,” said the father, stopping his boy from shooting any more, “do you think your mother’s commands are more like individual French panes, or like that plate glass window.

His son stopped, knowing that he was nailed. He didn’t say anything, but his father knew that he got it. “You see, son, your relationship with your mother is one entire plate of glass. When you disobey her, it doesn’t much matter where you put the hole. The glass is still broken. And your relationship with her is not like that frame full of individual panes, where you just have to keep from breaking most of them. So why don’t you run in ahead of me, and have a talk with your mom.”

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