Children Do As They See

The old man was small and stooped over.  His steps were careful as he carried his tray to the table in the restaurant where I was having dinner. I could see relief in his face and muscles as he reached his destination, set his load down and eased his weak body into a chair. The woman sitting down beside him was his daughter. When the man had difficulty cutting his meat, she very patiently took the knife from his hand and cut the large portion into small pieces, perhaps the same way he did for her when she was a child. It is always very touching to see children returning the love and care to their parents as they grow older. I never knew my grandparents and was not able to share my parents with my children, because they died early. However, I observe a lot of love between grown children and their parents here in the Rio Grande Valley, where we are currently living.  I think it is because the extended family is often a part of the home.

The old man was small and stooped over.  His steps were careful as he carried his tray to the table in the restaurant where I was having dinner. I could see relief in his face and muscles as he reached his destination, set his load down and eased his weak body into a chair. The woman sitting down beside him...

Whenever I talk with children in schools they often tell me as much about their grandparents as they do their parents. Children learn how to treat others by observing how their parents act. Watching the elderly man with his daughter reminded me of a story I received from a friend recently. The story was of a frail old man who went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. 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.” So 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.

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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 when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they 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 his 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 remarkable perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patently provide a happy home atmosphere for a family member, 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.

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more