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The Toys Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
December 17, 2011

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The Toys Lesson

My child is my teacher and he teaches me lessons when I least expect them. Sometimes these lessons present themselves from situations that may have taken place in an earlier time frame. Other times, these lessons may be a result of situations that did not start out as positive ones. Nonetheless, he is my teacher and like it or not, I am taught these lessons when I least expect to.

For several years now my teacher has been part of Cub Scouts in the city in which we reside. I love what the scouts stand for and the fact that it is a community oriented organization. As parents my wife and I have taken a very active role in our Scout Pack. Actually my wife has more so than I. At the beginning of 2011 she was honored with becoming a Den leader. She was asked to step into that position because of her positive attitude, energy, how she interacts with the kids and because she already had been a very active parent. I could not take that active of a role due to the fact that I travel with my job.

Since my teacher joined several years ago, he has had the opportunity to do many things. He may not have done these fun activities if were not for the scouts. We have camped and hiked in many locations and state parks throughout the state, visited many local and community operations; such as a local radio station, television news station, fire station tour, police station tour and my personal favorite ? the USS Alabama battleship. We actually spent the night on the battleship and slept in the bunk bed racks. We stayed up into the wee hours of the night exploring every nook and cranny of the battleship. I was surprised that my teacher was not tired since it was hours past his normal bedtime.

We have also participated in the community holiday parade several years in a row, helped in the cleanup of trash in the community and even worked with the Salvation Army in an effort to help the organization raise awareness and money for the less fortunate. We have conducted canned good drives and volunteered our time for varies occasions to help in the community. Not to mention the camaraderie and the friendships we have developed.

By far, from a volunteer perspective, my favorite thing was when we volunteered our time for the Marines Toys for Tots program. If you are not familiar with this program, the goal and/or objective of Toys for Tots is to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of the holiday season as well as to play an active role in the development of one of our nation's most valuable resources ? our children.

I understand from the view of a child, this volunteer work may not be the first thing they would plan for on a Saturday activity. Unfortunately I found myself in a conversation with my teacher that I was not happy about. He had expressed interest in going roller-skating on the Saturday morning that the Scout Pack had planned to volunteer for The Toys for Tots mission.

On that specific Saturday morning, my teacher decided that he would wake me up early to ask if I could take him roller-skating.

"Dad, wake up please." He began as he touched my arm while I lay in bed.

"What's the matter?" I asked, concerned there was some sort of problem.

"Nothing." He assured me.

"Are you okay?" I probed just to be sure.

"Fine, I promise." He spoke.

"Well, why did you wake me up?" I questioned.

"Can we go roller-skating today, please?" He began.


"Yes, seriously." He stated.

"Let me make sure I get this straight. You woke me up early on a Saturday, just to ask if I can take you skating?" I spoke.

He just grinned and shook his head up and down in a quick motion indicating that I had hit the nail on the head. I sat up, since I was now wide awake and proceeded to get out of bed without saying a word. He must have thought my action of getting up at that moment meant that I had agreed because he quickly got very excited. I put on my pants and shuffled my way downstairs. My Teacher was already down in the living by the time I arrived. I sat on the couch. I was not happy. Soon thereafter, I began. I was calm even though I was positive I felt steam escaping from my ears.

"First of all, I do not appreciate you waking me up just to ask if I would take you skating." I started. Then, I paused.

"But dad, I wanted to make sure that you didn't make any plans before I asked." He slipped in very quickly. I thought I was listening to an auctioneer. I do, however; have to give him points for originality.

"Second, we already have plans with scouts. Remember, we are volunteering for the toys for tots." I reminded him.

"Dad, I don't want to do that, I would rather go skating please." He voiced.

I did not move and inch, I just glared at him. I was afraid to open my mouth in fear that I would say something that I regretted later. He clearly got the unspoken message because he immediately expressed that maybe we could go skating the next day. Luckily he realized how selfish he was being and apologized for the way he had just acted.

Since I was up, I took a shower and got everything ready to go to the location where we would be volunteering. Shortly thereafter, my wife got out of bed and got ready to go. We were not used to getting up that early on a Saturday and being on such a time constraint. The volunteer location was about 30 minutes away.

Once we were downtown, we walked into the auditorium and began to help. We began by helping with carrying in the toys from the trucks, then we helped in sorting the toys by age and gender and finally we helped by bagging the toys for the specific children in need. We volunteered from early morning until after lunch time. During the time we spent volunteering, I was very pleased by my teacher's actions and hard work. He did a great job. Finally, the three of us agreed to wind down and head out since we actually had helped past our allotted time and another large waive of volunteers had arrived.

We were parked about a block away from the auditorium. As we headed towards the direction of my truck, I had no idea that I was about to be taught to my next lesson. I was blind-sided actually.

Out of nowhere, my teacher made a comment that not only I was so proud to hear him say, but also caught me off guard as my wife and I just looked at each and shook our heads in disbelief.

"You know mom, you know dad; I didn't think that would be fun, but actually it was a blast!"

"What did you just say?" I muttered, wanting to be clear that I heard what I thought I had just heard come out of his mouth. Especially because of the escapade that had taken place that morning.

"I had a blast helping out!" He exclaimed.

"That was a very unselfish and a very big boy thing to say." I beamed.

"The thing is, people should wait until after they do something to say something about it and not before that. I mean how do you really know if you like it or not until afterwards." He explained.

"Well said." I expressed as the three of us neared my truck.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: Don't prematurely make the decision on a subject matter before you experience it in the first place. You might surprise yourself with the actual outcome.

Comments (1)

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Janet from Virginia writes:
January 11, 2012
I had forgotten to read The Partial Observer for several months, but now that I'm back, I just needed to write and say thanks for continuing your account of your teacher's lessons. Your articles are not only fun to read but also insightful. I like how your family works!

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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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