A Difficult Word
By Steve Goodier
An office reports that they have an answering machine that instructs
callers to leave their name and address, and to spell any difficult
Early one Monday when the secretary was reviewing the weekend
messages, she heard an enthusiastic young woman recite her name and
address and then confidently say, "My difficult word is
Everyone's a comic! But in another sense, reconciliation IS a
difficult word. If not difficult to spell, then difficult to carry
out. Other difficult words are "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you."
When my son was eleven years old he came home from school in tears one
day. A couple of the older kids had beat him up at the bus stop.
We soon learned that tension had been brewing for some time. For
several days there had been taunts, then pushing and shoving. But now
the conflict escalated to fists. Rob wanted to stay home from school
so he wouldn't have to confront the boys in the future.
We called the school and found great support. "We'll be happy to call
the boys' parents," we were told. "And you should call the police."
"We don't know what we will do yet," I said. I wanted to consider the
best way to handle this situation.
The next day was Saturday. Rob happened to look out the window and
said in alarm, "There are the boys who beat me up!" Two older boys
were standing in front of our house, as if they were waiting for Rob
to step outside.
I immediately began to think of what I wanted to say to them, but my
wife Bev, a natural reconciler, acted first. She opened the door and
said with a smile, "Hi guys. Would you like some ice cream?"
They looked at each other in puzzlement. But they were teenagers,
after all, so they shrugged their shoulders and one of them said,
"Sure. Why not?"
They followed her indoors and Bev promptly introduced herself, Rob's
younger brothers and me. She even introduced Rusty the dog. "And I
think you already know Rob," she said, pointing to our son. Her idea
was to help them to see that Rob was a person, not a target. He had a
family; he lived in a neighborhood and even owned a friendly dog.
Bev drew the boys into conversation while we ate ice cream. After a
few minutes, she said, "I know there's been some trouble at the bus
stop. I think there may be a misunderstanding."
They nodded that there had indeed been trouble at the bus stop.
"Rob wants to be your friend," she continued. "Maybe we can talk about
the misunderstanding so you can all be friends."
They nodded their agreement and we talked. Eventually the boys
apologized and said there would be no more trouble. And there wasn't.
The vice-principal of the school called back the following week and
asked about the fighting. "Did you call the police?" he asked.
"No, but we've taken care of it," I said.
"What did you do?" he wondered.
I said, "We fed them ice cream."
Reconciliation is a difficult word. But it's one we need to learn!
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