The boy stood with back arched, head
cocked back and hands clenched defiantly. "Go ahead, give it to me."
The principal looked down at the young rebel. "How many times have you
been here?" The child sneered rebelliously, "Apparently not enough."
The principal gave the boy a strange look. "And you have been punished
each time have you not?" "Yeah, I been punished, if that's what you
want to call it." He threw out his small chest, "Go ahead I can take
whatever you dish out. I always have."
"And no thought of your punishment enters your head the next time you
decide to break the rules does it?" "Nope, I do whatever I want to do.
Ain't nothin' you people gonna do to stop me either." The principal
looked over at the teacher who stood nearby. "What did he do this
time?" "Fighting. He took little Tommy and shoved his face into the
sandbox." The principal turned to look at the boy, "Why? What did
little Tommy do to you?" "Nothin', I didn't like the way he was lookin'
at me, just like I don't like the way you're looking' at me! And if I
thought I could do it, I'd shove your face into something."
The teacher stiffened and started to rise but a quick look from the
principal stopped him. He contemplated the child for a moment and then
quietly said, "Today my young student, is the day you learn about
"Grace? Isn't that what you old people do before you sit down to eat?
I don't need none of your stinkin' grace." "Oh but you do." The
principal studied the young mans face and whispered. "Oh yes, you
truly do..." The boy continued to glare as the principal continued,
"Grace, in its short definition is unmerited favor. You cannot earn
it, it is a gift and is always freely given. It means that you will
not be getting what you so richly deserve."
The boy looked puzzled. "You're not gonna whup me? You just gonna let
me walk?" The principal looked down at the unyielding child. "Yes, I
am going to let you walk." The boy studied the face of the principal,
"No punishment at all? Even though I socked Tommy and shoved his face
into the sandbox?"
"Oh, there has to be punishment. What you did was wrong and there are
always consequences to our actions. There will be punishment. Grace is
not an excuse for doing wrong." "I knew it," Sneered the boy as he
held out his hands. "Lets get on with it."
The principal nodded toward the teacher. "Bring me the paddle." The
teacher presented the paddle to the principal. He looked at it and
then handed it back to the teacher. He looked at the child and said.
"I want you to count the blows." He slid out from behind his desk and
walked over to stand directly in front of the young man. He gently
reached out and folded the child's outstretched, expectant hands
together and then turned to face the teacher with his own hands
outstretched. One quiet word came forth from his mouth. "Begin."
The paddle whipped down on the outstretched hands of the principal.
The young man jumped ten feet in the air.
Shock registered across his face, "One" he whispered.
Crack! "Two." His voice raised an octave.
Crack! "Three..." He couldn't believe this.
Crack! "Four." Big tears welled up in the eyes of the rebel. "OK stop!
That's enough. Stop!"
Crack! Came the paddle down on the callused hands of the principal.
Crack! The child flinched with each blow, tears beginning to stream
down his face.
Crack! "No please," the former rebel begged, "Stop, I did it, I'm the
one who deserves it. Stop! Please. Stop..." Still the blows came,
Crack! Crack! One after another.
Finally it was over. The principal stood with sweat glistening across
his forehead and beads trickling down his face. Slowly he knelt down.
He studied the young man for a second and then his swollen hands
reached out to cradle the face of the weeping child.