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The Birthday Present Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old

by Hal Evan Caplan
December 10, 2007

The Birthday Present Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year OldMy three year old is my teacher and teaches me on a regular basis. As a guy, I admit that I am horrible about giving gifts – more to the point, remembering what items my wife has previously ogled over, or hinted at. So as much as I try to recall what it was that she had her eye on – I forget. Luckily, my teacher is with us sometimes when she points these things out. This is a great help to me because he actually DOES remember her hints. I know, I know...this is something that I really should make an effort at getting better at...but that's a tough one when I hate to shop in the first place.

For my wife's birthday, I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what she mentioned she wanted, but of course, I could not recall. So I figured I would take my teacher shopping with me in hopes to find something...anything.

Next, my dilemma was where to go to look for her birthday gift. Of course, my immediate thought was to drive to the mall. There we'd have tons of stores with tons of choices to pick from. I thought to myself that it should be pretty easy, so I gathered up my teacher and told him that we were heading for the mall.

As my teacher and I started out of the driveway, I began to think about it...and think...and think, and the more I thought about it, the more stress I felt. Digging a hole in the ground and burying my face in it seemed like a good option, but I wouldn't be bringing home a birthday gift then, either. Remember I really don't like to shop, period!

Then I snapped out of my deep funk because of the background noise...

"Dad...Dad...DAD!" I heard.
"Sorry...yes." I asked
"We don't need to go to the mall; I think the Harley store would be best."
"But the mall has waaay more choices." I expressed.
"The mall is not as cool as the Harley store." He claimed.
"...and Mom liked some of the stuff at the Harley store last time we went in there." He recalled.

Knowing that my wife loves Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the clothing, going to the Harley store actually made sense to me. So did the fact that it was just one store, closer to home, smaller crowd and that equals less of a headache. That made it easy...sold, done-deal. I started to feel a little better.

"Okay, the Harley store it is." I declared.
...and for an added bonus, my teacher and I would be able to check out all of the cool Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Little did I know this was not only a birthday shopping event, but also a lesson for me to learn...which I had no idea was already in the works.

My teacher and I looked at so many motorcycles that I think I began to drool. He and I spent a good bit of the afternoon looking at, and taking turns sitting on the bikes. I was of course, visualizing a sweet road trip with my wife on the winding mountain roads, taking in all of the beautiful and peaceful scenery. Eventually my teacher had to remind me of why we were there in the first place.

Hand in hand, my teacher and I walked over to the ladies apparel. I was immediately drawn to a black long sleeve t-shirt. The front of the shirt had the Harley-Davidson logo on it and the sleeves were made of a mesh material that looked like tattoos covering both arms.

Since it was the first thing I saw, I decided to keep looking. All the while, my teacher giving his two-cents worth that the first shirt was the best. Naturally, the more I looked, the more overwhelmed I became with all the very many cool choices. ARRRRGGGHHH.

"Dad, the first one is it." He exclaimed.
"I liked it at first, but there are so many others to look at." I stated
"It's the one." He encouraged.
"...But you never 'just go with' the first thing you see." I explained.
"Um, you're really making this way too hard." He said.
"Okay...Okay, you may be right." I agreed.

We found her size in that first shirt, the black one with the tattoo arms. I paid for it and we headed home, where my teacher helped me gift wrap it.

That night my teacher and I took her out for her birthday dinner. After we ordered, my teacher and I handed her the gift. She opened it, clapped her hands in delight, and said it was one of the shirts that she really wanted, and thanked and kissed us both. Obviously it was a big hit. Score one for the husband who hates to shop..and one who procrastinates until the very last minute!

I leaned into my teacher and asked how he knew that it was the one she wanted. He just sat back, smiled and giggled.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: follow your initial instincts; they usually are the right choices.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors, snowboarding and plays ice hockey on a weekly basis...and of course, always learns from his son.

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