Making the Teen Years Your Best Years
- Monday, April 09, 2007
One time when Greg was a teenager and our family was driving from Arizona to Missouri, we saw a clear example of why it's so dangerous to allow anger to take root in a home. But we also saw how honor can erase anger in a matter of minutes.
Near the New Mexico state line, Greg and I (Gary) started arguing about an unresolved conflict. Norma, my wife, was in the back of the camper with our other two kids, so she couldn't hear us. Greg had taken some money from Norma's purse to buy a video game. She had given him permission to take $20, but he'd taken $30. What he called an "advance" on his allowance, I was calling stealing. We had argued about the details but had gotten nowhere. I didn't like the fact that Greg wanted to keep this a secret. But he was upset because he'd returned the extra money and didn't feel his mother needed to know about it. He was also afraid she'd get angry.
The other problem was that I'd been pretty harsh with my tongue. I'd blown up during the original discussion at home and called Greg a liar and a thief. I could tell his feelings were hurt, but I had no idea that anger had infiltrated his heart. At least I didn't know until we approached New Mexico. Then, like a volcano, his anger erupted in my face.
As Greg and I argued once again about telling Mom, the discussion quickly escalated to the point that I had to pull the camper off to the side of the road. Suddenly, Greg jumped out of the vehicle, hopped a fence, and disappeared over a hill. As he ran, I could hear him screaming, "I want out of this family!" Then he was gone.
Teenagers! I thought as I rolled my eyes. Watching all the cars and trucks that I'd passed earlier roar by, I wondered how long this was going to take. "This will certainly put us behind schedule!" I yelled to no one in particular.
Since this was my first runaway situation, I didn't know what to do. Should I wait until he came back? Should I run after him? It was so hot outside that I was leaning toward staying in the air-conditioned camper. However, the rest of the family made my decision when they collectively screamed, "Go get him!"
Now I was really frustrated. Greg was pretty fast. Who knew how far he'd run by this time?
As I approached the fence Greg had jumped over, I noticed a sign that read: NO TRESPASSING! DANGER!
Danger? I thought. What could possibly be dangerous out here in the middle of nowhere? So I climbed over the fence and walked to the top of the hill behind which Greg had disappeared. Then I quickly realized what made the sign necessary. Danger was everywhere.
The scene was like something out of the movie Dances with Wolves. An entire herd of huge buffalo was grazing down below. The thought passed through my mind that instead of driving to this area in our camper, we should have traveled in a covered wagon. I had been instantly transported back into the Old West.
As I scanned the area for Greg, I discovered that he had descended the far side of the hill and walked about 20 yards into the herd, then suddenly stopped. I smiled as I thought about how his stubbornness had carried him far into the herd but not all the way through. His strong will had given way to fear. Greg now stood face to face with a large male buffalo. As they stared at each other, the buffalo started snorting and stamping his foot, inching toward Greg. I knew very little about buffalo, but that didn't look good.
Greg was searching for an escape route when his eyes found me. His expression turned to one of great relief. We still had no idea how to solve his dilemma, however. I slowly walked down to where he was standing, thinking the buffalo might charge at any moment. Instead, though, he simply snorted a few more times and then walked away. Thankfully, my presence must have confused the great beast.
We later found out just how dangerous buffalo can be. We heard that if they're frightened, they can run through a wagon load of people in seconds, scattering their remains. Hearing this disturbing news caused the hair on our arms to stand straight up!
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