040. The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man lived with his son, daughter-in-law, and a four-year old grandson. The old man’s hands tremble, his eyesight blurry, and his steps were unsteady.

The family used to eat together at the dinner table every night.  However, due to his shaky hands and failing sight, the old man dripped food and spilled milk onto the tablecloth.  The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

"We must do something about grandfather," said the son. "I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor."

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.  There, the old man ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner at the dinner table.  Since grandfather had broken a couple of dishes, his food was served in a wooden bowl.  Sometimes when the family glanced in grandfather’s direction, he had a tear in his eye as he ate alone.  Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old child watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.  He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?"

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The parents were speechless.  Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.  That evening the husband took grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family.  Neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

Children are remarkably perceptive.  Their eyes are always observing, their ears listening.  Their minds process all the messages they absorb.  They will assimilate whatever attitude we show them.  So mind what you do and say in front of your children!

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