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The Holiday Season Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke

by Hal Evan Caplan
December 27, 2008

The holidays are upon us and 'tis the season to learn yet another lesson from my teacher. My tyke is my teacher and learning lessons from him have become a regular event in my life. It's not that I am looking for these lessons to learn, the lessons appear anywhere, anytime with zero restrictions. I have accepted this and actually have come to expect the unexpected in learning these lessons.

My teacher has been sick lately; therefore, he has been home bound for the last four or five days. You might say he is even getting a little stir crazy. The bathroom trash can fills up quickly from used tissues and the house has become a mess...and much faster than usual.

My patience and my wife's patience are on thin ice as you can imagine. My teacher really knows how to play the "sick card", too. Upon us asking him to do something, my teacher immediately would get into character; the "I'm-so-sick-I-can't-do-anything" character. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Dad, I'm sooooo sick... I can't pick up anything". However, he sure can play with his cars and video games with no problem, and doesn't appear to be too sick to play.

Now don't get me wrong, of course it pains me to see him in his misery after the Tylenol wears off. And now I completely understand what my mom always meant when she said that it pained her more to see me sick. I always thought it was a little strange then, but I certainly get it now.

Because my teacher is currently sick, learning a lesson from him in this state was the last thing that I expected; however, a teacher will always be a teacher and a lesson plan must be taught...and that is exactly what happened.

My teacher and I were lying together on the couch watching Disney channel, when all of a sudden he got up and disappeared in to the other room. After a period of time, I was a little concerned because I wasn't hearing a peep from him. Just for the record, this is not normal. I am well known for comparing my teacher (and my wife) to a "Chatty Cathy Doll". If you don't know what this is, a Chatty Cathy Doll is a doll that has a string attached from behind and when this string is pulled, the doll just talks and talks. So all that quiet was making me wonder what was going on.

I got up and walked into my teachers play room. I noticed he was sitting at his table vigorously coloring away. I thought this to be a little strange since just moments earlier the two of us were relaxing on the couch.

My teacher noticed that I walked in, and he suddenly stopped what he was doing. He covered the sheet of paper with both hands and turned to me with "a-look".

"Dad, don't look over here." He demanded.
"Sorry, I didn't know you were doing something." I replied.
"Please leave, I'm working on a very important project." He emphasized.
"I was just making sure you were okay, I mean you are sick." I reminded him.
"Just leave, I'll be done soon." He pointed out.
I walked out of his play room and sat back on the couch. He then raced upstairs. I heard some rumbling coming from his room and then as quick as he went up, he came down and bolted back into his play room.

The first thing that I thought to myself was the Tylenol must be in full swing at the moment; followed by my second thought, which was, what in the world is he doing???

Soon thereafter, my second thought was answered in form of a lesson.

My teacher walked around the corner from the play room and into the living room. I noticed that he was holding something behind his back.

"Okay, Dad, close your eyes." He asked.
"My eyes are closed." I replied.
"Hold out your hands." He expressed.
"Okay, they are out." I said holding them out.
"Don?t peek." He demanded.
I'm not sure if he noticed that I was indeed squinting my eyes, or if he just said that.

I shut my eyes tight and felt what appeared to be some sort of paper placed in my hands.

"Open them up." He said with excitement.
I looked down and saw an envelope, of sorts, sitting in my hands. My teacher had an ear-to-ear grin.

"What?s this for?" I asked.
"Since you have been taking care of me because I'm sick, I wanted to give you something." He explained.
"What about Mom?" I asked.
"I made her something, too." He whispered.

I opened up the envelope and took out a piece of paper. My teacher had colored me a picture of a 4 x 4 truck...and get this...he also included a one dollar bill in the envelope. Holding in my giggle, I asked what the cash was for. He replied that it was for me, so I could go get something nice for myself. I now know what all the ruckus in his room was for...he had poured out his change bucket all over his bedroom floor looking for that dollar bill.

"It's better to give than to receive." He expressed.

I told him that he didn't have to give me anything. I then gave my teacher a huge hug and thanked him for his gift.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: It's better to give than to receive.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors, especially snowboarding and plays ice hockey on a weekly basis...and of course, always learns from his son.


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