“Last chance!” I shout across the living room, “or else no dessert tonight.”
My three-year-old stares at me, looks down at the toy in his hand I told him to put away, and throws it at me.
So, I drop the hammer.
“Alright… no dessert.”
Tears and screams flow out of him as he runs to me. He scratches and claws and pleads. And between his sobs and threats of violence, I hear Vince Gill.
“PLEEEAASSSE DADDY! Give me ONE MORE LAST CHANCE!”
“Nope,” I say with a chuckle.
Gill’s version is so much smoother than my livid toddler’s.
I take no pleasure in punishing my kid. He’s testing boundaries, though, and I know I have to follow through on my promise to withhold that precious, delicious dessert. He has to learn that there are consequences for his poor choices. But that doesn’t stop him from making a Hail Mary request for mercy, just like Vince Gill does in his 90’s country classic.
“One More Last Chance” hit number one on the Billboard Hot Country charts back in 1992, and it is an upbeat, 90’s country banger through and through.
The song follows the familiar trope of a woman threatening to end a relationship over the man’s repeated late night benders with the boys. The protagonist makes his own Hail Mary request in the chorus, sounding a lot like my son, but without the rage-induced snot rockets:
“Give me just a one more last chance
Before you say we’re through
I know I drive you crazy baby
It’s the best that I can do
We’re just some good ol’ boys, a makin’ noise
I ain’t a runnin’ ‘round on you
Give me just a one more last chance
Before you say we’re through”
The music video gives me Caddyshack vibes and features an amazing cameo by George Jones. The song’s second verse features an homage to Jones’ legendary story of driving a lawnmower to buy booze when his wife confiscated his car keys. And The Possum himself drives by on a lawnmower late in the video, making light of what was a dark and painful period of his life.
The Possum knows: everyone needs “just one more last chance.” He certainly had plenty of them. And Vince Gill’s light-hearted take on the break-up song highlights the deep, human need for forgiveness.
We’re all making mistakes out there alongside my defiant three-year-old. We’ll even repeat the same ones over and over again. Fortunately for my son, the stakes are low in his world. The loss of dessert pales in comparison to the loss of a relationship. There’s real pain behind the good-timing, good ‘ol boys anthem Vince Gill penned back in ’92.
But sometimes, when I’m feeling extra forgiving, I’ll relent and give my son one more last chance to put that toy away. And when he does, I sidle up next to him while he’s dripping snot and tears into his ice cream, and I hug him. He doesn’t always make good choices, but I’m proud of him for trying.
Here’s to trying, to failing, and to the unexpected, essential power of forgiveness for those of us especially prone to making mistakes.
So, let’s dance.
And speaking of forgiveness, here’s a little more wisdom from Vince Gill.