By Linda Porter Carlyle
Supper was finally over. Somehow Trevor had not enjoyed his Sloppy Joes like he usually did. The food seemed to be sitting in a solid lump in the middle of his stomach.
Dad pushed back his chair. He looked at Trevor. “Well, bud, it’s our night to do the dishes,” he said. “I’ll run the dish water. You clear the table.”
Brad and Ben jumped up. “We’ll be outside for a while,” Brad said.
Dad cleared his throat. “Is your homework finished?” he asked.
“Aw, Dad!” Brad groaned. “We can finish it later. We need to shoot a few more hoops. We need to be in shape for basketball camp!”
Dad just pointed down the hall.
Brad and Ben clumped toward their bedroom.
Trevor picked up his plate and his silverware. His stomach felt heavier than ever. He wondered what was wrong with it. Maybe he was getting sick.
He was just setting his plate on the counter when he heard a bellow from the twins’ bedroom. Brad and Ben came pounding down the hall.
“Somebody stole our homework!” Ben shouted.
“Our math papers are gone!” Brad hollered. “Josh probably took them. He probably wanted to copy the answers and not have to do all the work!”
“Hold on!” Dad said, looking around. He shook the soapsuds off his hands and dried them on a towel. “What’s the problem?”
“Somebody stole our homework!” Ben repeated. “It’s missing!”
“I think Josh stole it!” Brad said.
“That’s ridiculous!” Dad said. “You must not remember where you put it, that’s all.”
“No!” Brad insisted. “We finished our math when we first got home, before we even went outside. And we left it on our desks. Right there on our desks. And now it’s gone!”
Dad looked puzzled. “Go look around your room some more,” he said. “You’ll probably find your papers on the floor, or in your backpacks, or mixed up with some science project.”
“We’re not even doing science projects right now,” Brad muttered. He and Ben shuffled back down the hall.
Mom and Dad looked at each other. “I can see Ben losing his homework,” Mom said, “but Brad always knows exactly where his things are.”
Trevor quietly finished clearing the table. He wiped it off with a sponge. Then he picked up a towel to begin drying the clean dishes.
There was a roar from the twins’ bedroom. Brad and Ben bumped into each other as they tried to get out of the door at the same time. “Look at this!” Brad hollered. He ran down the hall, holding a wastebasket in one hand and torn bits of paper in the other hand.
Trevor cringed. How stupid! He should have used the wastebasket in his own room. He wondered if anyone would notice if he crawled underneath the kitchen table. Then suddenly he didn’t care. “I did it!” he shouted. “And I’m glad!” He banged out the back door, tore across the lawn, and climbed up into the tree house. He threw himself down on the floor and began to cry.
Trevor felt the tree house floor shake as Dad climbed up after him. He felt Dad’s hand on his back.
“I think you’d better tell me what this is all about,” Dad said softly.
Trevor just cried. He cried until he cried out all the tears he had. Then he sniffled.
“If I had to guess,” Dad finally began, “I would say you ran into the green-eyed monster.”
Trevor rolled over and looked at Dad. He wiped his eyes with his hands. “What?” he asked shakily.
“The green-eyed monster,” Dad repeated. “That’s what people sometimes call jealousy. A green-eyed monster.”
“It’s not fair!” Trevor wailed. “I want to go to basketball camp too! Brad and Ben always get to do stuff I don’t get to do!”
“I know,” Dad agreed. “That’s what growing up is like. Your turn will come, believe it or not.”
“I just felt mean!” Trevor stammered. “I wanted them to feel bad about something too!”
Dad grinned. “Well, you made them feel mad, anyway! But did that make you feel better?”
“No,” Trevor admitted.
“You know, there are much, much better ways of dealing with your feelings than trying to make other people feel bad too,” Dad said.
“I know,” Trevor admitted.
“You can always come to me, and we can talk about anything,” Dad said.
“I know,” Trevor whispered. “I’m sorry.”
“But now you have to go back into the house and talk to your brothers,” Dad said. “You need to tell them you’re sorry.”
Trevor looked alarmed.
Dad laughed. “Don’t worry. I’ll be right there with you. Brad and Ben will have a chance to practice forgiveness. Before we go in though, maybe you’d better think about a way to make it up to them. You stole something from them—you stole all that time they spent doing their math. They’ll have to do the work all over again.”
Trevor sat up and leaned against Dad. He hadn’t thought of it like that—stealing time. How could a person give back time? “I know,” he said after a while. “I could do some of Brad’s and Ben’s chores for them. Then they could use that time to do their math again.”
Dad put his arm around Trevor’s shoulders and hugged him. “That just might work,” he said. “Let’s go see.”
Most people, like Trevor, want to receive their fair share. If you think you are not being treated fairly, that can upset you or make you jealous. Remember that things do not always have to be equal to be fair. Sometimes your brothers or sisters might get more than you or be able to do something you can’t. Other times you might get more than they do. Things usually even out in the end. And remember that Jesus will always listen to your troubles. Just telling Him about them will make you feel better.—Love Mrs. Sox