Through the Fence 11-22-10 |

Through the Fence 11-22-10

Lisa Hamblen Hood
Goldthwaite, Texas

Part of growing up is knowing which goals are worthy of the time and effort needed to achieve them. Sometimes when someone gets what he’s pursuing, it’s neither what he wanted or needed. Kids are like silly dogs that chase cars. I always wonder; what would they do with that car if they ever managed to catch it?

My mom used to tell me a story about a little girl who cried because her mother wouldn’t get her what she wanted – an orange and gold, striped insect buzzing in the window sill. Every time the girl would reach out for it, her mom would swat her hand. She hit her harder and harder each time, trying to dissuade her from grabbing a wasp. Finally, the mom let her catch it, and it stung the girl’s palm just as the mother knew it would. It was a powerful lesson of consequences.

Our teenage son, Landon, is still trying to determine what he really wants in life. Some of his goals are lofty, and I hope he has the perseverance to attain them. Others are silly, childish impulses that remind me that there’s still a little kid lurking inside that 6-foot frame of his. Once he bet his daddy five dollars that he could hit a road sign with a banana peel as we sped by in the car. He leaned far out of the open window and nailed it with a bang. He was so elated that you’d think he’d won the lottery.

About the time I think he’s leaving his boyish ways behind, I am reminded to the contrary. After a long day at school and an evening of basketball games, we drove down the winding dirt road towards our home. As usual, there were several deer that hopped the fence and crossed the road in front of the car. One half-grown fawn ambled aimlessly down the road in front of us. It was too slow to outrun the car, too small to jump the fence, and too inexperienced to simply wait on the edge until we passed.

My husband drove behind it slowly for a few moments. Then Landon asked if he could get out and chase it. We stopped the car, and he hopped out and took off at full tilt. All we could see was his shoe soles and his elbows as they disappeared into a cloud of caliche dust. At first, the deer trotted away effortlessly without much urgency. It didn’t seem too concerned about the panting hulk that was in hot pursuit.

However, as the boy started gaining on the deer, it started moving a little more quickly, pausing momentarily to try its luck once more at clearing the net wire fence. When that didn’t work, it doubled back, and attempted to cross in front of the car, which was inching along behind the two. The little deer almost ran over its pursuer who paused in mid stride, surprised by the change in course.

By that time, Landon was beginning to tire after sprinting uphill about a quarter of a mile. The pause, along with better running equipment and an ample dose of adrenaline fueling the flight instinct, gave the fawn a definite advantage. Realizing the futility of the chase, Landon slowed down to a jog and then a walk. When we caught up to him, he was laughing as he panted, just enjoying the luxury of pursuing a frivolous whim.

“I nearly caught him!” he said between gasps. “And then what would you do, genius?” our daughter Lena asked sarcastically. “He would’ve probably kicked you in the face!”

“I would’ve wrestled him to the ground and have you take my picture, just to prove I caught him,” he answered smugly.

I only hope all his youthful exploits will be so harmless.

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