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The Birthday Party Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
May 5, 2012

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The Birthday Party Lesson

My son is my teacher and some lessons are taught in a different manner. These types of lessons may not teach me directly, but rather from afar. I am taught and I do learn nonetheless. That is the thing about being a teacher. Lessons come in all shapes, sizes and situations. He may not be teaching me on a level I am accustomed to but I still learn from him. That is why he is the teacher and I am his student. Lessons appear out of nowhere.

My teacher was invited to a birthday party of a classmate and friend. My wife and I joined him at the party since the child's mom was actually a good friend of ours. My teacher didn't seem to mind much since he was running around playing with the birthday girl and the rest of his friends that were at the party. As I'm sure you are aware, when a handful of 3rd graders get together where most of them happen to be friends, it can get quite hectic.

My wife and I were excited to get the opportunity to hang out and visit with our friend at the same time and catch up. The party happened to be at the house of birthday girl. For the most part, there were several groups of kids doing different things based on whatever "tickled" their fancy at the time. Our friend had several stations setup with activities available for the kids. There were kids riding bikes and scooters in the driveway, others were jumping rope, a few were throwing the baseball, while others sang on the karaoke machine and I witnessed a game of "tag-you?re-it". In an effort to keep an eye one as many "rug rats" as possible we continued to walk around the perimeter of the house to make sure nothing got out of hand.

At one point, my wife and our friend were in the kitchen as I strolled outside to check things out. Just as I exited the house, I heard a ruckus in the front yard between two kids. I noticed one of the little boys standing in front of the birthday girl. She suddenly began to cry and ran into the house to find her mother. I learned later that a game of "tag-you?re-it" had gotten out of hand. Some altercation between "the boy" and the birthday girl had transpired. Obviously I knew I was at a child?s birthday party, but what I did not know at that moment was that I was about to be taught yet another lesson.

Being one of the chaperones, I wanted to understand what had happened. Before I even took two steps towards the little boy, my teacher had beat me too it.

"Why did you hit her?" My teacher demanded to know.

"She's just a girl." The boy replied.

My teacher was very angry at the boy since he saw the whole thing happen. I stayed back because I was very intrigued by how assertive my teacher was acting. Not to mention he was doing a great job with the situation at hand. As I stood back and watched.

"Yes, she is a girl and no one should ever hit girls!" My teacher demanded.

"But I was just playing." The boy responded.

"I don?t care; you never hit girls... ever, ever." My teacher shot back.

"It was just a game though." The boy replied.

"But you hit a girl and made her cry." My teacher pointed out.

I don't think the boy knew what to do. He just stood there, listing to my teacher.

"Never hit a girl again, ok? Cause if I see you do it again I'll..., I'll..., well I don't know what I'll do... but I'll do something, ok?" My teacher voiced.

"Ok." The boy replied. He had his head hung low and he must have felt bad. The look on his face said it all. I'm not sure if he was embarrassed at what he did or if he was scared that my teacher had confronted him or what.

Then my teach walked away from the boy and went inside the house in search of his friend who had been crying. He walked right past me and he had very a serious and concerned look on his face. He didn't even notice that I was standing a few feet away, actually. As the front screen door closed behind him, I walked over to the boy. I explained basically the same thing that my teacher had emphasized. I asked the boy if he understood that hitting was not the right thing to do, especially girls. I suggested that he go find the birthday girl, apologize to her and to then put the incident behind him. I expressed to the boy to not let the incident ruin his time or anyone else?s time for that matter at the party.

Just as I finished speaking with the boy, my teacher walked back out and approached him again.

"I really think you should apologize to her. She will be fine, but you should do it anyway. I don't want to be mad at you, but you know it was wrong for you to hit her, right?" He concluded.

The boy shook his head in agreement and apologized to my teacher. Then the two of them went inside. I was told that the boy did apologize to the birthday girl. Soon thereafter, everyone was back to normal, running around and playing the games, including, the birthday girl, the boy and my teacher.

Soon thereafter, it was time for cake. Upon hearing this all the kids bolted in the front door. I was sure that each one of them had just broken the world record in the sprint category. My teacher had this look about him and he slowly walked towards the door.

At this time, he and I were the only two people in the front yard. I knew something was going on with him. Normally he would have been part of the heard of kids who raced into the house. He shuffled his way over to where I was.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yes, but I'm a little upset." He stated.

"You want to tell me about?" I probed.

He began to tell me the about the incident between the birthday girl and the boy. He was very upset that the birthday girl cried because she was hit by the boy. I was curious why he described the situation to me because I thought he saw me walk out of the house just as the incident took place, but apparently he did not.

"Did you even know I was standing here when that whole thing with the boy happened?" I asked.

"No, I didn't know. I was just so mad at what happened and wanted to let him know it was wrong to hit a girl." He recapped.

"I am very proud of you for talking to that boy. You didn?t have to you know." I expressed.

"I know." He mumbled. But in one sentence my teacher concluded the lesson plan that I was to learn.

"Besides dad, I thought it was important to stick up for my friend." He proclaimed.
I stood there speechless because quite frankly, that was the last thing I expected to come out of his mouth. He was obviously aware that I was not saying a word and he capitalized on the silent factor.

"Dad I'm getting me some cake now, please." He expressed.

I nodded and just like that he was gone as he jogged into the house to be with his friends. I stayed back a while and reflected on the entire event. How he first handled the situation to the end where he stood up for his friend, and everything in between. I was simply amazed. Actually I was speechless. My little boy, no wait... my big boy, my teacher is growing up in more ways than one. Wow!

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: It is important to stand up for what you believe in, especially when it comes to sticking up for your friends.

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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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