A frail old man went to live with his son,
daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old
man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and
his step faltered. The family ate together at the table,
but the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing
sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon
onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the
tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with
the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather,"
said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk,
noisy eating, and food on the floor."
Therefore, the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the
family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a
dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction,
sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.
Still, the only words the couple had for him were
sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son
playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked
the child sweetly, "What are you making?"
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am
making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food
in when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went
back to work. The words so struck the parents that
hey were speechless. Then tears started to stream
down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must
be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand
and gently led him back to the family table. For the
remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family.
And for some reason, neither husband nor wife
seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped,
milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever
observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever
process the messages they absorb. If they see us
patiently, provide a happy home atmosphere for family
members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives.
The wise parent realizes that every day the
building blocks are being laid for the child's future.
Let us be wise builders and role models.