I recently listened to Love, Lucy, the autobiography of Lucille Ball, read by her daughter Lucie Arnaz. When I listened to Lucille Ball’s account of an event that happened in her life shortly before her 16th birthday, I immediately knew that I wanted to share it with you.
Ball lost her father to illness when she was four years old. Her mother was expecting Lucy’s baby brother when her husband died. Lucy’s family life finally settled down after her mother remarried and she, her mother, her brother, her stepfather, and her mother’s mom and dad moved into a house together in a small town near Jamestown, New York. The book was of special interest to me because Ray and I enjoyed visiting the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum in Jamestown several years ago.
On July 3, 1927, Lucy’s grandfather, whom she called Daddy, brought home a .22 rifle to give to her little brother, Freddie, for his 12th birthday. When Freddie saw the rifle, Daddy told him that he would have to wait until the next day to shoot it, after Daddy showed him how to use it.
The next day, Daddy lined up a target in their backyard. He carefully explained all about the rifle. Joining them in the backyard were Lucy, their young cousin, and a girl from out of town who was visiting someone in their neighborhood.
An eight-year-old boy named Warner lived near Lucy’s home. The neighbors sometimes heard Warner’s mother call her little boy from her house, telling him to “git home!” On that fourth of July morning, Warner wandered into the yard where Daddy was teaching Freddie how to shoot his new rifle. Daddy noticed the little boy. He told him to sit down and to stay out of the way. Warner came close and sat down to watch.
Freddie practiced with the rifle first. Then the visiting girl got ready to take her turn. The gun was on her shoulder when Warner’s mother hollered for him to “git home this minute!” He shot up and ran straight into the line of the visiting girl’s bullet. Warner fell to the ground with a bullet in his back.
Warner survived the gunshot, but the accident left him paralyzed.
Of course, what happened that July 4, 1927, was a tragic accident. Warner’s mother sued Daddy and won. The lawsuit cost him his life savings and his family’s home. The accident cost Warner the use of his body below his waist.
The reason I am sharing this with you is simply because I want your children to be safe. I know we can’t protect them from every accident, but I know that I would not want my eight-year-old to be one of five children alone with one man who was teaching them how to use a gun. One adult, five children, and a loaded gun can too easily turn into a disaster, as it did that day near Jamestown, New York. That ratio simply wasn’t what it should have been. Children are unpredictable. Warner obeyed Daddy until he heard another command, that of his mother. When he heard her command, he used his eight-year-old judgment to make a split-second decision—a tragic one. Warner desperately needed a hand to grab him fast and pull him back down to safety.
Parents can’t protect their children from every possibility, but another of the great blessings of homeschooling is that mamas and daddies have more opportunities to keep their children safe than they would if they did not homeschool. Through the years, we train our children until they are mature enough to make wise decisions and to do “away with childish things.” Meanwhile, we guide and supervise them. Sometimes we even reach out a hand to stop them physically before their childish decision-making puts them at terrible risk.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child,
think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11