The hill near my childhood home in Durham, North Carolina provided a wonderful setting for wintertime activities, especially sledding. Our home perched on land close to the neighborhood street, which ended in a cul-de-sac.
Due to minimal traffic, the road provided a protected area for neighborhood children, my brothers, and me to play outside.
We waited with anticipation for the first snowfall of the season. Upon its arrival, snow seemed to fall at a rapid pace, intent on covering the ground with a deep layer of fun for us.
As children with a lot of energy, we just needed enough to enjoy building snowmen and throwing snowballs. However, we were happy to have more.
When the snow stopped, we looked at our parents for the okay to put on our “try to keep warm and dry” clothing, and snow boots.
Once we were allowed outside, our parents told us to stay nearby. The quickest way to release our energy involved vigorous snowball fights. The calm activity of building snowmen would be enjoyed later.
During the snowball exchanges, while laughter prevailed, squeals and screams were expressed by the girls when a “boy snowball” landed anywhere near us. It didn’t have to hit us to result in a verbal expression of fear.
That didn’t stop us from trying to hit the boys in return. Success sometimes eluded us, since many snowballs landed just a few feet away or short of our target. Forget trying to scoop up the rejected snowball and making it worthy of another attempt. That effort resulted in a barrage of snowballs from the boys.
The most exciting deep snow activity didn’t involve throwing. Movement in a different form brought more fun – sledding.
Reluctantly, my parents brought down sleds from the attic for my older brothers and me. They realized the excitement of traveling down the hill on a sled. While they knew the potential danger, the quiet street allowed for a sense of protection.
Our friends would meet us with their sleds in tow. As long as my brothers and older children were willing to supervise, I was allowed to sled.
I was restricted to the cul-de-sac. The older children were able to travel to the end of our block.
On occasions they were allowed to travel further down the hill to the next block; however my instructions did not change.
Stay in the circle.
My parents told me emphatically not to go past the stop sign at the end of our block. The older children knew to stop before proceeding down to the next block, but it was too dangerous for me.
The lure of enjoying more of the sledding run created a heightened sense of, “I can do this. I’ll be okay.”
While the street close to our house provided a reasonable length of road, the rest of the packed-down track seemed even better.
Of course, you know where this is headed. I didn’t listen to my parents. The temptation of going beyond my restricted area became irresistible
As I watched my friends and brothers trek back up the hill, my excitement increased.
I thought, “I’m eight years old, and I want to go to the bottom of the hill.”
So I did.
I made the journey past the stop sign, without stopping. The thought of a car coming from either direction never occur to me.
The other children didn’t have any issues, why would I?
Once I made it to the bottom of the hill, I realized my mistake. With so many witnesses, my disobedience would quickly be made public.
If I hurried back, maybe I could convince my brothers not to tell dad and mom, or at least argue my case based on a safe return.
After five or six steps rushing back up the hill, I stepped on the sled’s steering rope. The wooden sled provided protection from the slick road on the way down, however the rope “betrayed” me on the way back. With my momentum suddenly stopped, I hit the ground.
Still intent on defending my decision as soon as possible, I stood up and started back up the hill.
Then I noticed blood on the ground.
“What happened?” I wondered. “Where is the blood coming from?”
The impact with the ground split my lip. Grabbing the end of my scarf, I applied pressure to try to stop the bleeding.
“Am I going to need stitches?” became my next concern.
Realizing the imminent grounding, I slowly walked back. I entered the house with a bleeding lip.
I thought I would be okay, but my disobedience proved otherwise.
If only I had listened to my instructions.
Ephesians 6:1-3 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your Father and Mother’ – this is the first commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’
Colossians 3:20 – “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord.” (NRSV)
Nancy Frantel lives in Virginia, and is a published author of three history books, public speaker and researcher. Prior to becoming a writer she worked in corporate management. A “life interruption” injury in 2010 limited her ability to work as a writer. In 2017, she attended several Christian writing conferences, and felt led to start over in a different genre. Her goal is to write inspirational and encouraging stories based on her experiences, lessons learned by trusting God, and individuals He provides along the way.