This week my oldest showed how dangerous an impetuous act can be. He lashed out at his little brother who wouldn’t leave him alone, stabbing him in the ear with a remote control toy antenna. Immediately, the blood and tears of the younger made the oldest regret his actions, crying many tears of his own. Yet, the deed had been done. And no amount of tears or apologies would erase the possible damage done to his little brother’s ear. The full extent won’t be known until the swelling in his ear lessens.
As I sat there in the urgent care trying to figure out what in the world my oldest had been thinking, I remembered a moment of my own, a day when I hadn’t wanted the responsibility of being an older sibling either.
My parents had told me to stay in the backyard with my three-year-old brother, but instead I jumped the back fence to go play. My best friend at the time lived directly behind us, and I was sick of babysitting the siblings. Less than thirty minutes later, my dad called. Grumbling all the way home, I figured I was about to receive another one of those lectures about doing as I was told. I opened the back door to see my father and other siblings in tears. Left alone, my three-year-old brother had decided to swing on the long handles of a machine called a “tamper”. My father was building his garage at the time and this big machine was used to compact the ground before the foundation was poured. The swinging motion of my little brother on its handles tipped the “tamper” over on top of him, effectively crushing him.
My father didn’t mention my failure to be obedient, or how the accident wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed home. He had to leave because my mom had called from the hospital. My little brother was not doing well and they had found blood in his ears. I later found out this is can be a sign of brain damage.
Though my brother eventually made a fully recovery, every now and then the guilt from my actions on that day still creep up on me. I’m sure my oldest son will be riddled with the same kind of guilt for years to come.
Actions done in the heat of anger or frustration often end in regret, because when caught up in those emotions we quite literally can’t think straight. A lesson I hope my oldest son and any who are reading take to heart.