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Don’t Mess with an Only Child

I’m sure we all have moments from our past we would rather not think about. Maybe something embarrassing or silly, or in my case, something really scary.

First of all I have to explain, this happened when I was four years old. It is not something I can actually recall, but it is a story my parents related to numerous people, and each time I heard it, it made me cringe. In fact, when I think about it, I still shudder.

Like every little kid of that age, I received a garden set to play with outside. It was an era before plastic came into its own and my pail was made of metal, as was the shovel and rake. There may have been other elements, but apparently these were the ones I was very proud of.

My parents had to pry the shovel away from me at bedtime, and ended up waiting until I was asleep before they were able to take it from my grip. Now an important element of this recap is that I was an only child, which for me was a fantastic way to grow up. Sharing was a word unknown to me, and spoiled is something my grandmother referred to as ‘well-loved’.

One summer day, I was outside in a communal garden area behind our house, playing with my treasured garden set. My father was a few metres away speaking with a neighbour, glancing at me every now and then. A little boy from the neighbourhood came over to join me. I have no recollection of who he was, and his name was never part of the story, when it was retold.

Suddenly, while I was minding my own business, the boy took my shovel and began to play with it. This enraged me to the point where I charged him to retrieve my prize possession. After a pulling match, he let go and I fell on my backside, more embarrassed and annoyed, than hurt. (Apparently, the boy was laughing).

Quite angered, I picked up the shovel and lifted it in the air, ready to take my revenge. Fortunately, just in time, my father ran over and grabbed my arm. The boy was okay, and thankfully timing was everything, hence my cringing, every time I think of this. For me, the message was simple: do not mess with an only child.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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