By Joe Rector

Our son Dallas moved back to Knoxville in September. He moved to Chattanooga to attend college and then began his career. After 15 years, he decided to make a change in jobs that led him back here. He’s been living with us until he can sell his place in Chattanooga and secure a new residence. He won’t be with us much longer, but just having him around for the last bit brings back memories of when this man was a small fry.

Dallas was the easy child. Lacey was a bit fussier and more volatile; in other words, she was more like her father. Dallas was laid back. That didn’t mean he sat around and did nothing. It just meant his personality was much more like his mother’s.

Sometimes, my son did things that concerned me. One of the first acts was putting his forehead onto the carpet in the living room and zipping around the room as fast as possible on his hands and knees. When he finished, his forehead was covered with a bright red spot from the friction. He smiled and then realized how painful the rug burn was and began to cry. I laughed too hard to offer him much sympathy.

His stoic personality also included a stubborn streak, another characteristic he inherited from his mother. If his actions required punishments, and yes, that meant spankings, he would receive them without shedding a single tear. When I left his room, he would cry, but if I opened the door, he would immediately stop any tears that might fall. It was his way of showing me that he wasn’t about to give in to my demands.

We quickly decided that “time-out” was a more effective discipline for this boy. We placed him in our bedroom in our bed at the back of the house. He continually sneaked to the doorway to ask if he could come out. His toes touched the entrance to the room so he never technically left the room, and Dallas yelled, “Mama,” and begged to be released from the prison. His mother insisted that he return to the bed, and only after several redirections did he eventually serve his punishment and secure release.

Dallas hated school and cried from August until April during his kindergarten year. However, the boy was always curious. He and friends set out on adventures in the creek below the house. On one occasion, a neighbor’s son poked a stick down a hole and ignited an attack by of yellow jackets. The three boys in the group were covered with the swarm and came running back home with whoops and cries that could be heard for miles.

Dallas and neighbor Josh decide to make potato guns. It was something I’d never heard about. They purchased PVC pipes and joined them with plumber’s glue. Also included were several other parts which, to this day, I don’t understand. In the end, they stood in the back yard, stuffed a potato down the barrel of this gun, shot some hair spray into the thing, and lit a match. “Bam!” A potato flew across the yard and into the woods behind our house. I never understood the rationale behind making something that would shoot a potato, but those two boys were smart enough to assemble and fire the weapon.

My son left for college a boy, but he’s returned a man. I’m so proud of all he’s accomplished. Yes, he took his own path to where he’s arrived, but he is a solid man who has a good heart and a good mind. He will find success in this life. He’s back, and we’re glad. Seeing him more often than every couple of months is a blessing. It’s nice to have a pal with whom to watch ball games, mow grass, and rake leaves. Life is always a bit better when a child is around, even if he is 34.