I’m almost a day late writing this. Jonnie Sue and I have been having so much fun enjoying a visit with our son and his wife and two of their children, here for a few days on break from his teaching job in Japan. I’ve been recalling one of my most treasured moments from his childhood. I’m a believer in and practitioner of the principle that parents should only tell good stories about their children, and I try to be always mindful of St. Paul’s admonition that all our speech be uplifting and edifying.
Years ago, in 1966, when he was about 6, we lived in an apartment complex during our last month in San Diego before moving to San Francisco. A block away was a Jack in the Box. We had burgers from there often that month; our son loved them. He would have been happy to have nothing else. A few days before we left for San Francisco we went to Sea World. About lunch time we starting scanning the food opportunities. If you’ve ever been there, you know that you are a captive stomach, or were then anyway, because you are prohibited from bringing any food or drink through the gate. It might have changed now. Anyway, I had spotted their burger stand earlier and steered us that way, I knew it would be pricey, having already spotted the telltale sign – cloth napkins on tables. I hoped it meant that it would also be good. As it became apparent where we were headed, our son, the oldest of our three children, began grousing that it wasn’t Jack in the Box – that it wouldn’t be as good as Jack in the Box – why don’t they have Jack in the Box here? – can’t we leave and go find a Jack in the Box – I’m not going to have anything if it isn’t Jack in the Box – and so on.
I could see over the crowd in front of us and could see what he could not – large juicy patties being charbroiled over an open flame. They looked delicious, and I was hoping they would be as good as they looked. We finally made it to the ordering station, placed our order, paid, and got our stuff and went to a table. All the while he is expressing disappointment that it isn’t Jack in the Box. We sat down and unwrapped our burgers, which looked even better up close that they had from a distance. I take a bite of mine. It is terrific; almost as good as my mother used to make every Saturday, which are still the best I’ve ever had. I encourage him to take a bite of his. Reluctantly he does. Hmm. I notice a sudden change in demeanor. His eyes light up. Another bite. I can see the wheels turning. He says, “This is better than Jack in the Box.”
I might have smiled and said something in agreement, I don’t remember, but voices were screaming in my head. “Yes! Yes! Yes! I will never have to worry about you. You can change your mind and discard a prejudice in the face of evidence! Yes! You are going to do just fine!”
“…he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.” Prov 23:24b NRSV
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 21-Jan-2014.