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ODDS & ENDS
The Gift Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke.

by Hal Evan Caplan
February 25, 2009

My tyke is my teacher... of many, many things. I often watch in amazement, and I am caught off guard most of the time with the things that I learn from him. I especially appreciate the way he gets his point across. My teacher may not realize that I am actually learning from him, but that is what makes him an excellent teacher. I learn from him day and night, no limits, no boundaries.

Everyone loves to receive gifts...whether it's for your birthday or the holidays. The bottom line is that it's nice to know that someone was thinking about you, but more to the point, they actually showed you how much. The best gifts are given for no reason at all. The "Just Because" gift is my favorite, especially when I receive them from my teacher. In my opinion, there are only two categories that a gift will fall under... hand made or store bought. Because my teacher doesn't have a job, his gifts are hand made. Even though, according to him, I owe him, as he puts it, "like a thousand dollars"... but that's a discussion for another time.

My wife, my teacher and I were invited to eat dinner at Yia Yia and Papoi's (that is grandma and grandpa in Greek) house in the recent past. My wife's Uncle Gus was also there for dinner. My teacher loves Uncle Gus. Since my teacher brought his traveling arts and crafts case, he decided that he wanted to make something for Uncle Gus... just because. My teacher was so excited to do so, that he grew very impatient at the beginning of dinner.  Every few minutes my teacher asked if he could be excused from dinner so he could start on his "project" for Uncle Gus. My teacher even started to make excuses for why he shouldn't stay at the dinner table. Take in mind that dinner was just served and all plates were full, still with the steam rising up. My teacher only took a few bites before he tried to get on with his project.

"Dad, can I be excused?" He asked.
"Not until you eat your dinner." I replied.
"I'm full." He shot back.
"You didn't even touch your dinner." I pointed out.
"My tummy hurts." He mumbled.
"No it doesn't." I predicted.
"Then... I'm stuffed." He grinned.
"Are you full?" I asked.
"Yes, stuffed." He answered.
"Would you like some chocolate cake?" I tempted.
"Yes, right now, please." He indicated.
"That's what I thought... once you finish your dinner, you can have desert and then you can work on your project." I emphasized.

Realizing that he was not going to win this one, he ate his dinner and was finally excused after he was done. He strolled over to the couch area and disappeared.

After several minutes I looked over in the direction where my teacher was working, but I could not see him from the dinner table because he was on the other side of the couch. What I did see reminded me of the movie "Edward Scissorhands". I'm almost positive I saw bits of construction paper flying up in the air filling the room. Nonetheless he was working wonders over there.

Finally, he then ran back over to the table.  I thought we was delivering his work, but that was not the case. He went around the table asking each of us what our letters were...

"Okay, here's the deal..." He started.
All of us giggled at the way he said this. Not because we were making fun of him, but because of the humor of his presentation.
"No... no... no... I'm not done yet." He continued.
"What's up?" I asked.
"I need your letters!" He expressed.
All of us at the table looked around at each other, not sure what he was taking about with regards to "letters".
"Really, I do." He demanded.
I pulled him close so I could whisper in his ear... "We are not sure what you mean by letters." I explained in a lower voice.

Then he bounced out of my arms. "Oh", he replied. He then told us that he was asking for the first letter of our names. Each of us gave him what he asked for, and he stood there for a moment, maybe processing all that we told him; then he raced back behind the couch and out of sight.

Again he emerged from behind the couch, only this time my teacher had his hands behind his back with, I presumed, his masterpieces hidden from view. He approached the dinner table and began to pass out the handmade gifts for each of us. My teacher had cut out the first letter of each of our names and then colored them to his liking. The only problem was none of us received the letter that corresponded with our name.

I decided to voice this mix up aloud to him, and without missing a beat he replied...

"You get what you get so don't pitch a fit!"

Okay, let's just say that my foot was buried in my mouth...

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: Don't complain about the gifts you receive and when given a gift, even if you don't always understand it, appreciate it all the same.



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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