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The Speed Limit Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
September 22, 2012

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The Speed Limit Lesson

My Child is my teacher and sometimes the lessons are taught at my expense. Some of the lessons he teaches me are also taught in the least desirable ways especially when the outcome is not in my favor. As an adult, sometimes I let the situation at hand dictate the lesson, but in the end, he is quick to point out why he is the teacher and I am the student. All I need to do is to truly listen.

My teacher has been taking Chito-Ryo Yoshukai discipline style of Karate for over 5 years. He is one belt away from his black belt. My wife and I are really excited for him since he is so close. Earning his Black Belt was a goal he set for himself when he first began Karate. Training for his black belt has been intense; therefore, he has been taking extra classes at the Dojo to train with one of the Shihan's ? which is a 6th degree Black Belt rank and in the process of training for his 7th degree Black Belt. There is a 6 month time frame where the student must study and train for first degree Black Belt, but first has to qualify to even test for a Black Belt. If his San Dan, which is his current instructor, doesn't feel he is ready, he is not allowed to take the test. I recently learned that Black Belt testing is actually 5 hours long. Wow.

On this day, we were running late for the class at the Dojo. Believe me; students do not want to show up late to a class where Shihan is instructing. My teacher finished his dinner and we piled into my truck. We turned out of our neighborhood and raced in the direction of the Dojo, which is in the next city over and boarders the city we live in.

There are 2 sets of train tracks that go right through the heart of our town. It could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what side of the tracks you live on and which direction you need to go. The train comes through town often and if you get stuck on the opposite side of your destination, you could be sitting there a while.

As Murphy's Law would have it, since we were running late, we ended up behind a long set of cars parked on the road, waiting for the train to pass. I kept looking at the clock in my truck and time-was-a-ticking. We were pushing it at best. Finally the train completely passed and it was clear for the cars to continue forward. My patience was getting the best of me because it was taking so long for the cars to actually start moving.

"Dad, there is nothing you can do to hurry things along, you know." He revealed.

I know, but I just really want you to get there on time." I claimed. I knew it appeared we were running late to my Teachers Karate class, but I did not expect a lesson to present itself.

About this time, my wife piped in and gave her two cents worth, which went something along the lines of me not needing to drive like a maniac. Of course, being a man and thinking the way men usually think, my reply was a defensive one and my reply was, "Why would you say I'm driving like a maniac? I'm not driving like a maniac". She retorted with something along the lines that if I continued to drive the way I currently was, there would be a fresh pile of throw-up all over my truck. No winning that one, point taken.

As we went through our town, cars were back up at the light signal. There is a winding road that could be a short cut if all the stars were aligned, so I darted off the main road onto the short cut road. Unfortunately soon thereafter, I caught up to a car on the short cut road very quickly. I guess the stars were not aligned. The car was going so slow, and to the driver?s defense, they were going the speed limit, which was 20mph. I was suck behind this person the entire time.

"Dad, you can't get mad at the guy in front of you, he is just doing the speed limit." He brought to my attention as he leaned forward to check out the speedometer, which read 20mph.

"I'm not mad." I was quick to point out.

"Uh-Hugh." He chuckled.

"I'm not; I just really don't want you to be late." I snapped.

"Well, if I'm late, I?m late." He uttered.

Again, being a typical man, I expressed that if I could help it he would not be late. I was not tailgating the car in front of me, but my frustration certainly was getting the best of me. Finally, FINALLY, the car in front of me turned right into the last subdivision on that road, just before the road ended. As the driver turned into the subdivision, I pushed the pedal to the metal and turned the last turn just before the stop sign.

...And yes, there HE was, parked in the church parking lot, facing my direction. Immediately his lights were activated and I pulled over before he even made it out of the lot.

"AAAAHHHH!" I screamed at myself.

My wife immediately expressed that I was speeding and that it was my fault. REALLY, you think... Of course I know that it was my fault but I wasn't going to openly admit it. I had not received a ticket in over 15 years and I was certainly hoping the police officer would give me a warning.

"What's going on dad?" My teacher questioned.

"I'm getting pulled over by the Police." I roared.

"Why." He questioned.

"Because I was speeding." I stormed.

"What's he going to do?" He quizzed.

"I don't know." I expressed. "Just please do me a favor and do not say one word while the officer is talking to me." I continued.

"Well I guess that's what happens when you speed and you are not supposed too." He mocked.

Then the officer came up to the window and did the normal drill by asking for my license, registration and insurance card. Upon receiving those items he went back to his patrol car to begin radioing in my information.

Meanwhile, I was getting bombarded from the passenger seat and the back seat. At that point, I was so in the red, all I heard was the echoes of Charlie Brown's teacher. "Whoaa-Waoaoa-WOO-Waoa-WOOaa'. I instantly tried to blame everything else from my teacher taking so long to get ready, to the train, to the traffic and finally to the person driving the speed limit on the short cut road. Of course playing that blame game didn?t do a thing to help the situation.

The Police Officer walked back with my driver's license, insurance card and registration AND THE TRAFFIC TICKET. In one last ditch effort to redeem myself, I commented on the fact that I was not able to just get a warning. His reply was, "not at that speed". I sighed and signed the ticket and we were on our way.

I turned around to look at my teacher to see what his reaction was to all of this and to see what he was doing. He starred right back at me as he sat there, arms crossed and shaking his head.

"Dad, so it doesn't happen again, do the speed limit when you drive." He insisted.

He was right, I didn't even have a response to that one.

And the worst part, (AAAAHHHH), the worst part was the class started a little late and my teacher ended up getting there on time, even with the traffic stop.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: It is important to obey the posted speed limit at all times.

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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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