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“Randy,” Ensign, Jan. 1980, 71


We affectionately call him our little Smash-Rip-and-Ruin. After having a sensitive, well-behaved girl like Lavon Kaye, we weren’t prepared for an active boy like Randy.

I attempted to train him with reason and explanations but failed consistently. When I asked him not to ruin our antique chairs by hitting them with a hammer, he complied by hammering the dresser with a screwdriver. I made him promise not to hammer anything with anything anymore, so instead he wrote all over the piano with a ballpoint pen.

Tuesday was worse. He tried to clean the aquarium by pouring six ounces of detergent into it. By the time I tried to rescue the fish, they were lying lifeless in foam on the carpet. He broke an egg on the kitchen floor to see if a chick was inside. He turned off the water heater. He banged the dusty furnace filter down the hall “to clean it out.” Then he knocked his glass of milk over on the table.

That night I was nearly late for Relief Society preparation meeting. But as I dashed out the door, Randy followed me, pleading, “Mama, don’t go!”

“I have to go,” I replied, irritated. “I’m late already. Go bother your dad!”

“But I need you,” he begged, anguish in his voice. “I lied.”

I assured him that we could discuss it as soon as I got home, but his brown eyes were watery, and his bottom lip quivered. “Please stay home,” he implored. “I don’t want to burn up in the fire.”

“What fire?” I asked, as my chubby little cub came sobbing down the steps into my arms. Dumping my books on the ground, I hugged him tightly to me.

“I lied,” he sobbed. “And I don’t want to burn up in that big fire that is going to burn up all of the bad people on the earth.”

As his words tumbled out in the security of my arms, he confessed that he had lied about finishing his scrambled eggs that morning. He didn’t like them because they had onions in them, and they squeaked when he chewed them. He had been in a hurry to watch television, so he let the dog lick his plate clean, and then he lied about it.

I carried him back into the house to the big rocking chair. He snuggled against me as we talked about repentance and forgiveness, about trusting each other and not telling lies, and about not making little children eat scrambled eggs with onions in them.

The flowered rocker was faded but unblemished when I inherited it from Great-grandmother Snowball. The hammer marks will never go away, but they are not as important as a cuddly four-year-old with deep brown eyes.

Illustrated by Michael O. Rogan