[Editor's Note: the following excerpt is taken from the book: time for the talk: leading your son into true manhood (Copyright by Steve Zollos, published by Shepherd Press). Reprinted with permission.]
It was a warm spring day and I sat working behind my desk. I had been to an event a few days earlier and had won a BB gun that I gave to my son as a present. Along with the gun came clear and detailed instructions on how and when it could be used.
The phone rang and I picked it up to hear my son Stepheno crying on the other end. "Stepheno? What's wrong?" I asked as my heart began pounding. I had never received a call like this before, and I knew something had to be very wrong.
Stepheno started in a halting, almost undecipherable sob, "Dad, I didn't mean to … I didn't think it would shoot that far … I'm sorry … I didn't mean it."
By now the sobs were making complete sentences indiscernible and I began using the scant pieces of information to paint a picture of what had happened in my mind. It had something to do with the BB gun. He shot his brother Phillip, or maybe Emerson with it, but it wasn't too close and it appeared that Mom wasn't home, or she was taking him to the hospital. My mind immediately shifted into panic gear.
"Stepheno," I replied rather sternly, "slow down and stop crying. I can't understand you. Now tell me what happened."
He tried to slow down, but instead of adding details his sobs filled all the voids. "I … took the BB gun and … I didn't know it would shoot that far. I really didn't know, I didn't even pump it up all the way," and the sobs broke out again.