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The Big Boat Lesson
Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
October 6, 2012

My son is my teacher and teach me he does. In the car,on vacation and even in the middle of running errands. No matter the situation, he teaches me... period. And I am the student.

Over a long weekend, my wife, my teacher and I were invited to our very close friend's house. The couple have four children ? one daughter and three boys. Two of the boys are close in age to my teacher and one is just now in his "learning-walk- stage". Their daughter is in her young teens. She has long blonde hair and is beautiful. My teacher is smitten by her, but that is a story for another time.

Our friends live on a lake about an hour's drive from our home. During long drives, such as this, it gave my teacher ample time to chat about, well anything and everything. And believe me; he took advantage of our time together during these long treks. On that day, he was non-stop talking up a storm. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of it because it gave us the opportunity to catch up on topics. The disadvantage on that trek was the very limited time my wife and I had to chit-chat.

During that drive, my teacher's banters ranged from Alabama football, Alabama's head Coach Nick Sabin, Trent Richardson who was my teacher's favorite Alabama football player; then quickly switching gears to his baseball team, his teammates, school and kids in his class. Next he informed me that he was excited to ride on the pontoon boat docked at our friend's house. He also commented on the cows and horses in the pastures aswe drove passed. He then continued his ramblings about how he would love to live on a ranch, new computer games he wanted to play given the chance, visiting Colorado so he could learn how to snowboard and play in the snow and much much more. As you can see this driving adventure was full of random conversations.

Somehow he got on the topic of the overturned Italian cruise ship disaster that occurred in January of 2012. If you are not familiar with the tragedy, the cruise ship Costa Concordia partially sank on January 13, 2012 after hitting a reef off the western coast of Italy. Over 4,200 people were on board the luxury liner, 17 of which passed away.

He was telling my wife and me the story of how it happened.

"So, mom, dad, do you how it happened?" He probed.

"Yes", I piped in. "The ship ran aground." I concluded.

"But did you know why?" He continued.

"My guess is that it got too close to shore." I expressed.

"Yeah, the guy driving the boat was showing off and got too close to shore and that's when it hit the bottom or something." He described.

"How do you know he was showing off?" I questioned.

"Everyone is talking about it in school." He voiced.

I explained that he shouldn't believe everything that he hears from kids his age and even kids a little older, unless it is correct information. I also explained that it is important to get the correct facts on any given situation especially before you tell others.

"Yeah, like the other boat that ran into the ice." He expressed.

"Wait a minute here, I want to make sure you understand where I'm coming from. Does that make sense about having the correct information before you pass it along to someone else?" I stated.

"Yes it does, dad. Thanks." He replied.

"Now, what does the Titanic have to do with the Italian cruise liner?" I questioned.

"How did you know the name of the boat?" He asked.

I chuckled. Then, before I could explain to him about the historical fact, he proceeded to tell my wife and me the events that took place regarding the Titanic. He described that it was a big ship with many many people on board. The boat was in a really cold place?"like the North Pole or something" ? and there were a lot of ice chunks everywhere. He went on to talk about how the ice chunks were much bigger underwater compared to what was sticking out above the water. As he described his version of the Titanic incident, he must have thought a lesson needed to be taught.

In the middle of my teacher describing the size of the icebergs, I leaned in closer to the passenger seat where my wife was sitting. I whispered a question and asked about the directions to ensure I wouldn't miss something like a turn or crossroad. As a side note, I am the world's worst at directions. I've said it before and I'll say it again ? if I happened to be in a brown paper bag, with directions on how to get out, I would still get lost. My wife on the other hand, well that's a different story. She is so good with her sense of direction that if she goes somewhere just once, she never forgets. Anyway, during these whispers, my teacher obviously noticed that I was in the middle of asking my wife these questions and not paying attention to him.

"H...E...L...L...O! Someone's talking here." He pointed out.

"Sorry bud, I just wanted to ask mom a question and make sure I was going the right way to our friend's house." I explained.

"Well, you could have at least said excuse me, first." He brought to my attention.

"You are exactly right. Again, I'm sorry." I apologized. "Do you accept my apology?"

"Yes, but interrupting people is rude, dad." He pointed out.

"Again, I'm sorry." I repeated.

"Thanks, but please don't do it again 'cause it's very rude." He explained.

My wife and I looked at each other, quietly giggled and shook our heads in disbelief. As quickly as he was side tracked by my rude interruption, he resumed at the point where he stopped and continued in his story telling... about the Titanic.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: It is very rude to interrupt someone when they are talking.

About the Author:

I am happy to share with you, the readers, that the stories of "Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke" has been published into a book. The book is available at: and (though If you would like a signed copy from My Teacher and me, please contact me at and we can work out the details.

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