My brother Brent was a “boy’s, boy.” Angel faced, charming, and cunning, he could out-wit the most hardened parent (our own mother, may I note, was not). When it came to talking himself out of trouble, my brother was downright prodigious. Although my brother’ skills in talking himself out of trouble, were excellent, his aptitude in avoiding the unfortunate circumstances was mediocre, at best. This affinity was evident from a young age. From the time my brother could walk he literally went looking for trouble.
My parents bought a pre-civil war farmhouse in the bucolic Maryland countryside when I was 4 years old. The first night in our farmhouse, I was told, there was a horrible thunderstorm and all 3 kids wound up crawling into bed with my parents (I don’t doubt that a 100-year-old dilapidated farmhouse looked scary during a thunderstorm). We’re not sure when but sometime early in the morning, Brent got out of the house. A pre-civil war farm home is not “child friendly” by today’s standards. My brother, emboldened by the liberty of his new surroundings, set off to taste freedom for the first time. He toddled down the stairs, out the door, around the sleeping dogs, and ran milk-drunk into the crisp morning air.
My parents groggily woke-up exhausted, after a horrible night sleep and realized that they couldn’t find Brent. My dad haphazardly threw on some clothes and his cowboy boots and ran wildly out the door in search of his toddler who had an incurable case of wanderlust. Our house was set on a hill and you could look down the driveway and see the property and barns below. My dad was relieved when saw Brent… sitting in the middle of the driveway below… stuffing rocks in his diaper.
His happiness was short-lived, though. Right about that time, a semi-truck pulled into the driveway and was headed right towards my brother. Dad charged towards my brother, not thinking of the grass, slick from the morning dew. The minute his cowboy boots hit the grass he fell “tail-over-teakettle” three times before landing, dazed and bruised, right next to him.
He looked up at my dad, laughed, babbled something undecipherable (hey dad, glad you could join me!) and continued stuffing the rocks in his diaper unfazed. My dad, who was still reeling from the fall, grabbed him and barely dodged the truck. Unimpressed by my dad’s heroics, my brother screamed in protest all the way back to the house.
The exact same way my boys did when I told them it was time to go inside. It reminded me of a scripture Ecclesiastes 1:9: “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” Amen.