“You were born prematurely,” Sam’s mother explained to him when he went to her again to complain about being smaller than everyone else in his class. He had heard the same thing most of his life, but had only now, at age 12, begin to understand what being ‘premature’ actually meant – small.
Sam knew he was different and that was also because of being ‘premature.’ At one point he held the ideal, even though he didn’t fully understand its meaning, as something to be proud of – but then Ernie moved in down the block and everything changed.
Nearly everyday Ernie would meet him around the corner from his house, which Sam had to walk by to get to school. And nearly everyday, Ernie would punch him or knock Sam down, taking his lunch money or rifling through his lunch bag, taking whatever the larger kid wanted.
When he had enough of Ernie’s bullying, Sam finally let him have it with a solid punch to the head. Unfortunately for Sam, a teacher saw him throw the punch and it was Sam and not Ernie who ended up in the Principal’s office and later suspended from school for fighting.
This came after Sam had told every teacher he could about what Ernie did to him each day. Not even Sam’s father could persuade Ernie’s mom to make her son stop his bullying.
“He’s jus’ acting out,” she stated, excusing her boy’s behavior, “Besides, his father isn’t in the picture anymore and he doesn’t always listen to me.”
So Sam resigned himself to being Ernie’s punching bag and lunch-provider for the rest of their sixth grade year together. Sam hoped, prayed and wished that come summertime, things would change.
One late afternoon, Sam’s father came home early from work. Once upstairs he stopped to check in on his son, to see what he was doing.
Sam was looking through the wrong end of the telescope his folks had bought him for Christmas, the year before. His father stood there, watching, perplexed by Sam’s smile as the pre-teen moved the scope ever-so slightly from side-to-side.
Finally, the father couldn’t contain himself anymore, asking, “You do know you’re looking through that the wrong way, right?”
Surprised, Sam swung the tube around and looked at his dad, answering, “Yeah, I know.”
“So what are you looking at?” his dad asked.
“I’m watching Ernie playing in his front yard,” Sam responded with a smile.
“Why?” the puzzled parent returned, “I thought you two were still at odds.”
“Oh, we are,” Sam said, “But when I look at him from the wrong end of the telescope, he looks so small.”
“And..?” the dad asked.
“And he finally looks on the outside like he does on the inside — and I’m no longer afraid of him,” Sam beamed.