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The Parking Space Lesson
Teachings of a 3 year old.

by Hal Evan Caplan
December 26, 2006

How would the world be if everything were viewed through the eyes of a 3 year old. I mean, who really is the teacher here, the child or the adult? My 3 year old is an excellent teacher of how we, "adults," should view things. He has opened my eyes and actually made me really think of my own actions.

One question; one word comes to mind, "why?" This question that he poses turns into a series of the same question spiraling deeper and deeper into the abyss. "Why is the sky blue?", "Why does our cat go potty in that box?", "Why does day turn to night?" and so on.
These, are not the questions that opened my eyes.
The series of "why" questions that he asked recently at the mall is what made me say, "Wow" this time. Why I say, "this time"' is because it seems that he teaches me everyday in many situations. This is just one of the many lessons that I have learned from him:

After driving around the front of the mall entrance looking for a parking space, I spotted a car with its reverse lights on. As I patiently waited with my turn signal blinking, another car slid into the spot where I was set to park. Because he is 3 years old, I had to refrain from the traditional four letter words and I had to force myself to utilize five and six letter words. As he heard a barrage of mumbles blurt out from under my breath, the following life lesson took place.

"Dad, WHY are you so mad?" he asked.
"Because this four star loser took my parking spot."
"I don't know why he cut me off; I was waiting for this spot first!"
"I just told you."
"No, dad, why are you mad?"
"Because - I wanted to park there."   

Suddenly, the 3 year teacher stopped asking the questions and presented the lesson that I was to learn:

"but there are other spots way back there."
As the Smoke came poring out of my ears, like captured in a cartoon setting, I drove around towards the back of the parking deck, found a handful open parking spots and pulled in to one. As we walked for the mall entrance, he asked me to pick him up. Once in my arms, he softly asked another question:
"Dad, are you happy?"

With that, I couldn't help but chuckle; it may have even been a chuckle out of frustration. But, nonetheless a chuckle, which in turn, provided him a reason to laugh. The next thing I knew, I, too was laughing. Within the next few minutes, the two of us were laughing so hard that tears rolled down my face. This of course, armed him with more ammunition to laugh even more - .and believe me, he did!

As we walked, actually, as I walked with my teacher in my arms, I looked back on the events that had just unfolded. An event that felt like hours turned into one of life's little lesson from a great teacher. I found myself thinking out loud and stated the obvious with a rhetorical question and what I received was a reply from my teacher that I did not expect:

"Now why was I mad again?", I asked myself.
"Because you're a goober, dad," was the answer. 

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: Don't let the small stuff get to you. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from 3 year olds - they are great teachers if you really take the time to listen.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado, now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors and is always willing to learn. And of course, always learns from his son.

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