The Difference

When he told how George confessed
That he couldn’t tell a lie,
It always brought a tear drop
To my dear old Daddy’s eye.

Now way back when a washtub
In the kitchen was our bath
To use our family’s toilet
Meant you had to “walk the path.”

We had a real nice outhouse;
It was tall and painted bright.
With a half-moon on the door;
It was such a pretty sight.

I always liked Halloween,
Because it was lots of fun.
I’d do things I shouldn’t do,
Then see how fast I could run.

I don’t know why I did it;
I guess just because I could.
It wasn’t very heavy;
It was only made of wood.

I tipped it over easy,
With a fence post for a pole.
Where once it stood in splendor,
There was now a smelly hole.

I wouldn’t get in trouble,
For I had the perfect plan.
If Daddy asked who did it,
I would ‘fess up like a man.

Well, he beat me with a stick,
Then he beat me with his belt.
And I couldn’t sit for days,
‘Cause it left a painful welt.

When I reminded Daddy
That he wasn’t very couth,
Young George had got no whipping
When he told his dad the truth.

“Well,” Dad said, “It’s different;
Surely even you can see,
‘Cause little George’s father
Wasn’t IN his cherry tree!

Poor George Washington, he doesn’t even have a holiday any more. The thing that most children remember him for probably didn’t even happen. The cherry tree fiasco was probably made up years after his death.

I used the story however, and the fact that children quickly become experts on the fairness of punishment, for this poem. The point is that two similar acts of disobedience may require different punishments because of different circumstances — and circumstances can make a whale of a difference.


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