From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

Is Sixteen Enough?

You never find yourself until you face the truth.

Pearl Bailey

When I was in first grade, parents were required to buy certain school supplies. Crayons were on the list. Because my parents had five children to buy supplies for, they bought me the box with only eight crayons.

I was proud enough of my box of crayons until I got to school and saw that just about everyone else who sat near me in class had the big box of sixty-four crayons.

This isn’t fair! Why do I have so few crayons, and they have so many? I thought. So, I told my parents that my box of crayons was stolen.

Like I’d hoped, my parents bought another box of crayons for me. It wasn’t, however, the box of sixty-four brilliant colors I wanted so badly. It was another box of eight.

I placed my new crayons in my pencil box along with the original eight. Sixteen was better than eight, but was sixteen crayons enough? Again, that evening, I told my parents the same story: someone had stolen my crayons. Again, I had a brand-new box the next day. It was another box of eight! I now had twenty-four crayons; three of each color, but not sixty-four different colors.

Foolishly, I decided to try one more time for a box of sixty-four. This time, I told my parents that the teacher said I had to have the larger box. As soon as I told them this, I knew my father was on to me by the way he looked at me.

“Who do you think is stealing your crayons each day? Why aren’t they stealing anyone else’s crayons?” he asked.

Shrugging my shoulders, I answered, “I don’t know.”

“Well,” my father said, “I think I should come to school with you tomorrow to talk with your teacher and see what we can do about this situation.”

Oh, no! If he did that, he’d know I had been lying. My friends would know, and especially my teacher would know. I squirmed and shuffled my feet. How could I keep this from happening?

“Of course,” said my father, “if your crayons are just misplaced instead of stolen . . . and you were to find them, I guess there’d be no need for me to come.”

Miraculously, all my crayons showed up the next day. After school, my father asked me, “Did you find them?”

“Yes,” I answered, trying to act like I was amazed.

“That’s wonderful,” my father said, as he gave me a hug.

Looking back, I can see the wisdom in my father’s simple solution to this problem. He knew that I knew that he knew, and he gave me a way out.

Perhaps, after that incident, if I had lied again, he wouldn’t have given me an “out,” but I made sure from then on that he would never have to do that again.

Christine M. Smith

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