A frail old man went to live with his
son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man's hands trembled,
his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
The family ate together at the
table. But, the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made
eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped
the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
His son and daughter-in-law
became irritated with the mess." We must do something about Grandfather,"
said the son. "I've had enough of the spilled milk, noisy eating, and food
on the floor."
So, the husband and wife set a
small table in the corner. There Grandfather ate alone, while the rest of
the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his
food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in
Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye, as he sat
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 watched it all in
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 food in
when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents
that they 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. And, for some
reason, 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 ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds
ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a
happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude
for the rest of their lives. The wise parent realizes that every day the
building blocks are being laid for the child's future.
Let's be wise builders.