“What a day,” Tyler thought as he finished reading his basketball book and got out of bed to kneel for his evening prayer.
“You did a good job today,” Alicia told him as she peeked her head into his room on her way to bed. Tyler was glad she said it, but he didn’t feel he had made any big decision. Sure, he had made a good choice, but it came so naturally that it didn’t really feel like much of a choice at all.
The day had started out like a normal Saturday. Tyler walked a block to the neighborhood playground where there were always kids to play with. Some days he played soccer, some days he played basketball, and other days he just played tag.
When Tyler got to the park, he saw a few boys huddled in the little red clubhouse near the jungle gym.
When Tyler crawled inside, he saw Anthony, Marcus, and Stephen—all boys he had played with before. He started talking with them about things like video games and what their Halloween costumes were going to be.
Then Anthony pulled out a folded-up piece of paper. “Hey, guys. Look at this picture of a girl I took from one of my dad’s magazines,” he said.
Marcus and Stephen moved behind Anthony to see the picture. Tyler didn’t move.
“Whoa!” Marcus said. His eyes got as big as marbles.
Stephen’s cheeks turned red. He slapped his hand over his open mouth and started to laugh. Anthony and Marcus laughed too.
A chill ran up Tyler’s back. He knew the picture was something he should not look at. He turned toward the door and crawled out of the clubhouse.
Anthony crawled out after him.
“Tyler, come look at this!” Anthony said.
“No,” Tyler answered. “I don’t look at those kinds of pictures.”
“Why not?” Anthony said. His voice was so loud Tyler could hear it echo off the hills behind the playground. “Are you scared?”
The other boys laughed.
Anthony ran toward Tyler. As he got closer, Tyler saw Anthony’s hand moving upward. Tyler closed his eyes. He felt the paper brush against his face.
“Come on, look!” Anthony said as he laughed. “Look!”
Tyler jerked his head away from the paper. It didn’t matter to him how much he was teased or how much the other boys laughed. He knew he should not look.
So he ran.
Tyler ran from one side of the playground to the other, but Anthony was right behind him, holding up the picture and laughing.
Because Tyler’s home was nearby, he knew the best way to get Anthony to stop chasing him was to run home. As Tyler began to run home, he saw something he had not noticed before. His sister, Alicia, was standing by the swings. As he ran past her, she turned toward Anthony.
“Leave him alone!” she yelled. Anthony, who was already slowing down, stopped and walked back to the playground.
When Tyler ran through his front door, he made his way to the living room and crashed on the couch. Alicia walked in a few minutes later. “Don’t worry about those guys,” she said. “You did great.”
As Tyler lay in bed thinking about what had happened to him that day, he started to realize why not looking at the picture had been an easy choice for him. Tyler had already learned that he should not look at immodest pictures. Maybe today was the first time anyone had tried to show him a bad picture, but he had already made up his mind a long time ago.