My conversation with Vincent showed me I needed to thank my mom and dad.
“It’s no use asking Scarlett to go. Her mother wouldn’t let her!”
The whole group started to laugh.
“Her mother won’t let her do anything,” one of them sneered.
“Well, maybe I don’t want to go,” I shot back at them. I turned my back and walked away, but I was crying as I went. I was still upset when my friend, Vincent, found me beside my hall locker.
“Hey, why the tears, Scarlett?” he asked. “Been peeling onions in cooking class?”
I grinned in spite of myself. Vincent always knew how to make me smile. I explained to him how the girls in my third-period class were skipping school the next day to see a movie at the theater downtown, and they were making fun of my mother because I wouldn’t go.
“Big deal,” Vincent said. That was his favorite expression.
“It sounds like those girls have a problem. What are parents for anyway?” Vincent went on. “Just to cook your meals and wash your clothes and wake you up for school in the morning?”
“Well, no,” I said. “More than that. They’re supposed to look out for us and give us a place to live.”
“What else?” Vincent had a little grin on his face. “Do they teach you anything?”
“I guess they teach us right from wrong,” I answered.
“That’s right, as far as it goes, but there’s so much more than that.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Does your mother even know about this skipping school to go to a movie?”
“No, of course not. I just don’t want to go because I know it’s not right.”
“That’s what I’m getting at,” Vincent went on. “How many of those mothers do you think actually know their daughters are planning to skip school tomorrow?”
“Probably none of them,” I answered.
“Exactly,” Vincent said. “You see, no mother or father, aunt or uncle, grandmother or grandfather can be looking over your shoulder all the time, telling you what to do and what not to do. Parents have to do more than just teach their children right from wrong. They have to bring them up so they’ll decide for themselves not to do wrong. Maybe those other girls’ mothers didn’t do that.”
When I got home, I went into the house and threw my books on the couch. Mom came in, and seeing her reminded me of the conversation I’d had with Vincent. Some of it must have shown on my face because she gave me a second look and then asked, “How was your day, Scarlett?”
“Well . . .” I hesitated.
“Well, what?” my mother asked.
“Vincent gave me something to think about today. I’ve got a lot to thank you for, Mom.”
“Thank me for?” She looked puzzled, but by now she was smiling a little. “Why? Because I’m a good cook? Or because I gave you a new sweater for your birthday? Or maybe because I pray for you every day?”
I hadn’t realized Dad was standing in the doorway listening to what we were saying. “You’ve used up your guesses,” he said as he wedged his way into our conversation. “I suspect those are all a little part of it. Young lady, what brought all this on?”
Then the whole story came out. I ended by saying, “So that’s why I’m thanking both of you—because you loved me enough to teach me to do what I know is right, even when you aren’t around.”
“Well, that’s part of the job God gave us when He gave us you. Besides, we want you to live to be a hundred years old,” he said with a chuckle.
“What?” I questioned.
“The Bible says in Ephesians, ‘Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.’”
Mom spoke up again, “The Bible has instructions, together with promises, for both parents and children. If we keep His commandments we can’t go wrong.”
Suddenly, I realized how fortunate I really was, and I began to feel sorry for those girls who were going to skip school.