As the summer drew to a close, there were other escapades with Clyde and Sharon, but none as harrowing as the broken window accident. With each passing year, our family’s level of poverty increased. There were no birthday or holiday celebrations. However, once a year our local fire department held a fall festival on Halloween night. The town’s children of all ages and income were welcomed for homemade chili, treats and a night of games and prizes.
My excitement had continued to increase from the moment I first heard about it until the day of the event. There was so little happiness in our family, but tonight would be a wonderful memory. Little did I realize my excitement would turn to sadness within a matter of hours.
When Dad arrived home, he noticed soap on some of the windows. With Dad’s harsh interrogation, I readily admitted I was the guilty one. My classmates said they were going to soap windows as a traditional Halloween event. I wanted to be accepted as one of the “cool kids” in town. I soaped only a few windows, enough that when queried the next day, I could exclaim I too had participated in such an adventuresome tradition.
Upon confessing to my crime, Dad hastened to deal with what he deemed a most dastardly deed. As he immediately removed his large, leather belt, I knew the beating awaiting me. I thought the beating would be sufficient, but not to Dad. Following my beating, I was forced to remain at home scrubbing all windows, including those not soaped. While my siblings and other children were attending the fireman’s party, I sobbed and pleaded for Dad’s mercy.
I carried the bucket of water from window to window; my hands numb and painful from the water and cold, northern OH night air. The few soaped windows could have easily been cleaned the following night, but Dad insisted I receive the maximum punishment that very night.
When my schoolmates passed by querying if I was attending the party, my moans and cries could be heard for several houses away. I continued to plead with Dad to go to the party. His word was law; “no.” Only months earlier Dad tearfully stated I had assisted in saving my sister’s life. Now I was being unjustly punished for a childhood prank. No windows were damaged or broken. Nonetheless, my spirit and heart were shattered.
Such incidents reminded me my parents not only viewed me as someone that completed their household chores and tasks, but their refusal to accept me as their 8 year-old daughter that sought to be a child. It was as though my siblings and I lived in different homes. They were free to play and relish their lives as children.
I can now reflect on those times realizing there would be more times of disappointment. However, I learned at a young age God was with me in all situations. He gave me the strength to endure iniquitous individuals and the disillusionments they bestowed and a reminder He would never forsake me.
Colossians 3:21 NKJ, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”