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The Puzzle Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
July 13, 2013

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The Puzzle Lesson

My son is my teacher. Some of the lessons that I learn from him don't directly involve me. Sometimes I learn lessons from a distance and even though the lessons are taught from afar, in the end they still impact me. I love learning from him no matter the method. That is why he is the teacher and I am the student.

My wife, my teacher and I are part of a large motorcycle dirt bike club called, "Let's Get Dirty Motorcycle Club". There are approximately 50 members of the group to date that consist of men, women and kids. I?m sure you have this picture in your head by now whereas 50 people are all bunched together riding on trails and most members are riding in a cloud of dust and smoke behind the lead motorcycles. That is actually not the case. The way the club rides work is like this. There are scheduled rides throughout the year and if group members can make it, great and if not, there are always many other rides.

Two big rides are scheduled each year over long weekends at Durham Town Plantation which is a mega dirt bike park in Georgia. This place has cabins, a pro-shop, bike mechanic shop and a little restaurant ? of sorts. Durham Town has over 1,500 miles of one way trails, 9 motocross tracks, a super cross track, dirt bike drag strip, a freestyle park and a large mud park. Basically it?s a dirt bike enthusiast dream come true.

Most members of the group attend the big events; however, we all do not ride together. Smaller groups venture out in the areas of their interest and then we all try to meet up for lunch so members can switch around and ride in other areas. At night, we gather around several campfires and talk about the stories that have developed throughout the day while we eat dinner.

In addition to the overnight trips, we have many local rides throughout the year. These are day trips and most of the time the group attendance is much lower averaging 5 to 20 members. Even though most members don't ride each scheduled day trip ride, over a length of a year most will ride at some point.

Usually during our local rides, the small group goes out to a restaurant to eat dinner after the ride since we wrap up around dinnertime and most are very hungry by that point. On this specific ride we were about an hour from home so eating out was definitely in the plan. The group chose a restaurant called Cracker Barrel. If you are not familiar with Cracker Barrel, this restaurant combines traditional Southern cuisine with a Southern country theme gift store where the decor is designed to resemble an old-fashioned general store.

For the record, I have purchased many gifts from this establishment. Plus I'll give you a cool nugget of information. Breakfast is my favorite meal and they serve it all day and all evening. How cool is that? Can you say breakfast for dinner anyone?

The other really neat thing this restaurant does is it provides little puzzle like fun games located at each table. The table puzzle game at our table was the triangle pin game. It is a triangle shaped object made of wood with golf tees placed in little holes on the surface of the triangle. The goal of that game was to remove as many golf tees as one can by jumping one tee over another. The tee is removed when it is jumped by another golf tee. The ultimate goal is to leave just one tee standing.

While at the table, the group was talking about this game. A few of the group members had some back and forth banter about how many tees they could leave standing. Finally my buddy Scott expressed that he was certain that he could leave just one tee standing. Now this is a difficult task mind you. Some friendly betting arose as a result of Scott's comment and finally my teacher gave his input and felt there was no way Scott could just leave one tee and he voiced his opinion.

My buddy looked at my teacher and said, "What would you do if I only left one standing?"

My teacher pondered the question and then blurted out, "I'll give you two bucks!"

"Okay, show me the two bucks." Scott expressed.

"I have it at home." My teacher replied.

"Are you going to give it to me if I win?" Scott joked.

"Deal." My teacher retorted.

My buddy Scott picked up the triangle game and began to turn it side to side studying the puzzle from every possible angle. Then he put the game back down on the table and proceeded to jump the tees over one another. He began to chuckle as he neared the end of the puzzle because he knew he had actually pulled it off. One tee remained standing on the triangular block of wood.

"It looks like you owe me two bucks, little man!" Scott pointed out as my teacher gazed at him in disbelief that he actually conquered the puzzle. Of course this stirred some fierce competition from the group; however, the remainder of our dinner was pretty uneventful since most who tried to mirror Scott's feat came up short.

We finished up at the restaurant and headed for home. Once we arrived at my house, we began to unload the bikes and gear. I noticed that my teacher had disappeared. I assumed that he just went inside to clean up and probably forgot all about the bet he lost. Knowing my good friend Scott, I really didn't feel that he expected my teacher to give him the 2 dollars anyway.

And just like that my teacher re-appeared back outside. As we completed unloading my wife's four wheeler, my teacher's bike and my bike from the trucks and trailer. Scott climbed into his truck and voiced that he was headed home when my teacher began. I knew we were at the tail end of our day from dirt bike riding, but I had no idea a lesson was about to begin. My teacher walked up to Scott's truck as he rolled down the window. From behind his back he whipped out two dollar bills and extended his arm toward Scott.

"Mr. Scott, here is the two bucks I owe you." My teacher indicated as he handed Scott the money.

"Oh you don?t owe me anything!" Scott snickered. "I was just messing with you."

"Yes I do." My teacher demanded.

"No. No, you really don't have to do that, I was just playing around." Scott reiterated.

"Mr. Scott, a bet is a bet, it's yours to keep. I told you I would give it to you. Will you please take the two bucks." My teacher voiced and insisted that Scott take the money.

"Good for you." Scott expressed to my teacher. Then he looked at my wife and I who were standing next each other, shook his head and said it was awesome that he was like that pointing out that he was really a neat kid.

"Thanks." My teacher replied to Scott. He heard what Scott had said since he was still standing right there next to my wife and I. Scott waved good-bye and drove off. I turned to my teacher and smiled.

"I'm very proud of you for following through with what you said." I brought to his attention.

"Well, dad, I'm a man of my word." He preached.

My mouth dropped wide open. My wife and I were both speechless. All that I could muster up was the word, "WOW!"

My teacher gleamed and zoomed into the house.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: It is important to always honor your word as this defines the kind of person you are.

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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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A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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