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The Orange Juice Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
March 3, 2012

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The Orange Juice Lesson

My son is my teacher and somehow I find myself learning valuable lessons from him ? often. The lessons somehow materialize out of thin air. I have often stated that I don't see the lessons coming. One would have thought that by now I would have mastered the art of seeing the lessons in the making. I have not. Surprisingly enough, I actually look forward to these lessons when my teacher presents them. That is why he is my teacher and I am his student.

During the holiday season I was tasked by my wife to go to the store and grab a few items that we needed for the holiday festivities. My teacher and I raced out the door with a shopping mission at hand. Don't get me wrong, it's not that my teacher and I were eager to get in the middle of all the craziness and crowds associated with shopping during the holiday season; we were not eager at all. More specifically, we really wanted to accomplish our shopping goal, get it over with and get back home as soon as possible. Since we left the house in such a frenzied mindset, I forget to grab the list. To make matters worse; my cell phone was left at home on the kitchen table. The good news was the list wasn't terribly long, so I was confident I would remember everything on it.

Once we entered the store, my teacher and I marched up and down the aisles and gathered the needed items. We did our best avoiding the crowds coming our way. There were a few times that I felt like I was in the midst of a stampede going in the wrong direction. Note to self... if you are pre-holiday shopping, make sure you get EVERYTHING you need the first time. The store was riddled with people doing their last minute shopping. Believe me, if this scenario happens again with any holiday in the future, we will be eating that meal without the forgotten item because I will not do THAT trek again. Period.

As we gathered what I believed to be the tail end of the list, I paused and began to recap the items in my head, just to make sure I didn't forget anything. Of course it didn't help that my teacher learned that I had forgotten the list in the first place, and no comment on the forgotten cell phone. My teacher simply laughed at that one. I made a reference that years ago, there were no cell phones and had this same situation taken place during that time period, one would just do the best they could. For the record, that comment didn't work; actually it opened up another can of worms. He laughed even harder.

"No way." He grinned.

"Yes, that is very true." I announced.

"So... did people just sorta yell for each other when they were not together in the store?" He pieced together through the various stages of laughter.

"What do you mean?" I wondered.

"Well, now, you and mom either call each other or text each other so you know where to go." He pointed out.

No comment. I was not going to have this conversation. If I wasn't careful, I'm sure the stories my parents told would have come out. You know the stories I'm talking about. The stories that go something like this. "When I was your age, we had to walk to school, in the snow, uphill (both directions), with no shoes on, in the dark, just to get to school and back home."

"Okay let's switch gears here. Do know of anything that I forgot?" I said aloud, as I called out the items in the cart in hopes that if I missed something, my teacher would be there to remind me.

"Oh, I know what you forgot." He voiced.

"Oh good, what?" I was happy to hear. Well not happy to hear as much as happy to know he remembered something that I had forgotten.

He started to chuckle as he spoke, "Your cell phone." He finally got out between the giggles. I just closed my eyes and shook my head slowly. I know I wasn't going to hear the end of it, at least for a while.

We were shopping in a Super Center "Mart" type store. The store had everything from food to clothes to toys to car essentials and more. We happened to be standing near the electronics section when he began to look around and comment.

"So, what about TV's? Or MP3 players? Or Video games?? He quizzed.

"What about those things?" I questioned, not really sure of the point he was trying to make at the time.

"Were those around back then... in the olden days?" He giggled.

My reply to those series of questions was simply, "You live and you are growing up in what's called the 'technology age' and no those things have not always been around. A matter of fact some of those are fairly new in the grand scheme of things. You should feel lucky because everything is more at your figure tips, but life was on a simpler scale back then, too." I concluded. He just laughed again.

In the spirit of switching subjects, I wanted to get back to our original goal, which was to find the needed items and get out of there. The bustle of people in every open area of the store was starting to give me a headache. I am not a fan of crowds and seriously, this was the last place I wanted to be especially on my day off. I know these items were needed for the holiday meal, so I wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything. Again, I called out the items from the shopping cart. I knew we were shopping, but what I didn't know was that my teacher had begun his lesson plan.

"Orange juice." I said allowed.

My teacher looked at me and repeated, "Orange juice?"

"I'm not sure if I need to get that or not. Do you remember?" I asked my teacher.

"No, I don't remember." He countered.

"Hummmm... what to do." I said to myself.

"Dad I would get the orange juice anyway." He voiced.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Well, it's better to be safe; just in case you need it then you already have it. So I would just get it. Besides if we you don't need it now, we always drink orange juice so it won't go to waste." He expressed.

"That is very true. How smart is that? I don't know why I didn't even think of that." I rambled.

"Yeah, it's better to be safe than sorry." He concluded.

As a side note, I did remember everything from list and one bonus item that was not needed at the time, but was certainly consumed thereafter. Yes, the orange juice.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.

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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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