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The Crying Lesson

Teachings of a Three Year Old.

by Hal Evan Caplan
September 29, 2007

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The Crying Lesson
The Crying Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year Old.My son is my Teacher and his lessons happen on a daily basis. However, some of the time, learning a lesson is the last thing on my mind because of the situation taking place at that time. Nevertheless, "learning a lesson" is exactly that... learning a lesson... and this lesson is no different.

My teacher has been instructed not to play on or around the stairs in our home. My wife and I have explained that he could really hurt himself if he fell down the stairs. From time to time my teacher forgets and we find him playing on the stairs. Unfortunately, sometimes our teachers must learn for themselves...because on occasion things do happen. While playing on the bottom half of the stairs, my teacher did fall down and hurt himself...or at least "I" thought that was the case.

While I was in the kitchen, I heard a loud "thump-thumpity-thump-thump" sound. That sound was very distinct and sounded just like someone falling down a flight of stairs. I knew exactly what it was because moments earlier, I had the "don't-play-on-the-stairs chat" with him.

Because of our earlier discussion, I think he may have hurt his ego or the fall just seriously scared him more than it being an injury. I say this because when I asked, between screaming cries, "Where 'IT' Hurt?", he would point to a different part on his body each time. I found it interesting that whenever I would ask the question again, not only did he randomly point to a place different from the last time, but he would also begin to cry and scream louder and louder.

At this point, I knew scolding him would be out of the question because I felt bad and I didn't have the heart to do so. I knelt down to console my teacher and to assess the situation more closely. I figured kneeling down to my teachers level would calm him down. Once I was eye to eye with him, I spoke to him in a soft voice, again hoping this would calm him down...I was wrong.

"Pick me up, please, pick me up". He screamed.
"Everything's okay." I assured him.
"Pick me up...hold me, hold me!" He pleaded.

Obviously, my earlier tactics of getting down to his level had not worked, so I figured he would calm down once I picked him...since this is what he wanted at that moment....again I was wrong.

He continued to cry and scream while I held him. At that point, my thought was to focus his attention elsewhere, in hopes that he would stop crying and realize "this was not a big deal!", especially if it was ego related. I began to ask about his favorite things... Take in mind that each time I asked a question, the crying and screaming got worse.

"Do you want me to play cars or trains with you?" I asked.
"NO!" He screamed.

"Do you want me to read you a book?"
"NO!"

"Do you want to go outside and ride your bike or go for a walk?"
"NNOO!"

"Do you want me to put you down?" I asked, not sure what to do next.
"NNNOOO!" He screamed as he cried even louder.

"Do you want me to...."
"NNNNOOOO!" He wailed.

He just clung onto me like a Koala to a tree, as he pierced my eardrums with his screaming. Just for the record, DO NOT ask your three-year old, if they need to go to the doctor...this will make matters much worse!

"Do we need to go to the doctor?"
"AAAAAAHHHHHH....NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Learning any lesson at that moment was the last thing that I expected, but things happen for a reason and my lesson was going to happen with my teacher screaming and crying...like it or not.

I continued to hold my little teacher as I walked slowly around the house. I FINALLY realized not to ask any more questions. I just walked and walked and walked around. After about an hour, he calmed down. The crying and screaming stopped altogether; however, the echoing in my ear continued for a good 30 minutes thereafter. At last he was ready for me to put him down. Then out of the blue my teacher asked me a bizarre question...at least I thought it was bizarre, for being such random question.

"Dad, did you figure it out yet?" He asked.
"Figured what out?"

He paused for a long while before he answered...

"Dad, when you were holding me, nothing was really-'Really' wrong." He explained.
"Were you just scared?" I asked.
"Duhhh." He emphasized.
"You know the time when you me picked up earlier?"
"Yeah." I replied.
"All I wanted was for you to just hold me...that's all Dad...I just needed you to hold me...understand now?"

Hearing that comment from my teacher not only made me melt on the spot but also proved that I still have a lot to learn from him.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: Sometimes we all need to just be held in order to feel safe, loved or just because...

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PO BOOKS BY HAL EVAN CAPLAN
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke
Published September 28, 2010

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
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A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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