Teachings of a Child
by Hal Evan Caplan
January 26, 2013
My son teaches me life's lessons when I least expect him to. These lessons appear out of thin air and I am still baffled to this day at the fact that I have not figured out when they appear. There is no limit to the lessons or time associated when they happen. He just knows the right time and place for the lesson to take place. That is exactly why he is my teacher. Just for the record, I do love learning from him.
On the first day of each New Year my wife, my teacher and I have dinner at Yia Yia's (Greek for grandmother) house. It is a family tradition to have Pork, Black Eyed Peas, and Collard Greens. It is a Greek tradition for a bread call Vasilopita to be severed. In my opinion Vasilopita is more like cake, at least the way my mother-in-law bakes it. This Vasilopita cake is significant in Greek communities and is associated with St. Basil.
On New Year's Day Greek families cut the Vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the New Year. A coin is hidden in the bread by slipping it into the dough before baking. Once the Vasilopita is baked and ready to serve, a piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. Slices are also cut for the household. Once a slice has been cut for everyone and the house, the cycle then starts over until the coin is found in the ?named? person's piece.
In 2013, my wife, my son the teacher and I attended the family tradition as we usually did. Unfortunately at the beginning of that year, my wife had been sick with what appeared to be Flu like symptoms. She just did not feel well at all. She really wanted to stay home and to just be in bed, but she did not want to miss out on the family gathering and the tradition that went along with it. She was such a trooper for pushing onward and I felt really bad that she felt this way. I know she was hurting.
She and I agreed that the visit would be a short visit based on how she felt and that we would get her in bed as quickly as possible. Now, you are probably thinking several things here. One, why did she attend the dinner and two, she could have rested at Yia Yia's house. To address the first item, it was her decision to come. She really didn't want to miss the yearly tradition, despite the state of mind she was in. Second, she did not want to lie down at her mom's house in fear that she would both fall asleep and miss the dinner ? even though she had no appetite. She also felt that if she did lie down, she would not have the energy or strength to get up. I know that she really wanted to be in her own bed. I don't blame her. I know when I feel yucky; all I want is to be in my bed at home, too. Being in my bed when I'm sick is probably best for everyone. My wife will tell anyone who asks, because according to her, I turn into the biggest baby when I'm sick. That being said hopefully there is NOT another story for another time on that subject matter.
During dinner, my wife primarily ate soup broth ? drank soup broth is probably more like it ? while the rest of us ate the pork, peas, greens. It was pretty uneventful as we all were concerned with how my wife felt. I ate my usual "one" Black Eyed Pea and small corner of a Collard Green. I'm sorry to admit that my taste buds are not a big fan of either food item. Luckily that lack of taste did not carry over to my teacher's taste buds. He actually had several servings of the Black Eyed Peas and a serving of the Collard Greens. Me? Well, I was actually "eyeing" the soup, but that was made especially for my wife. My mother-in-law is well aware of my "relationship" with the Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens, so she served other items as well.
The meal went rather quick all things considered and we moved on to the cutting of the Vasilopita cake as my wife sat in a zombie-like state mumbling answers to questions that were asked of her. As Yia Yia cut the Vasilopita, my teacher's eyes grew big in anticipation for both a piece of the delicious homemade delight and to see "who" would get the coin this year. My teacher loves this cake as much as I do. It really reminds me of a coffee cake in taste since the two are very similar. Anyway, in the end, my wife is the one who actually received the coin in her slice of bread. "Good luck to you Sweetheart for 2013".
We finished the Vasilopita cake, had coffee and when we were done I placed our belongings in my truck. We said our good-byes to Yia Yia and I helped my wife into the vehicle, then we went on our way. During our commute home, my teacher spoke softly, recognizing that his mother was there, but out in left field. I knew we were en route home, but I did not know a lesson would be presented and delivered at that moment.
"Mom?" He spoke.
"Huggghhh." She moaned.
"Are you feeling any better?" He probed.
"Uuhh." She groaned.
"Bud, mom does not feel well at all. You know that. Please let's just not say anything so she can try and rest during the car ride home." I requested.
"Okay." He whispered.
"Thanks." I replied.
My teacher then whispered a word of advice to his mother.
"Mom, you need to go straight to bed when we get home." He demanded in a whisper.
"Uuhh." She uttered.
During the remainder of the drive home, no one spoke and the radio was turned off. My teacher loves to sing and he sang softly to himself. Occasionally I would look in the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse of him and each time I did, I found him starring right back at me with a huge smile on his face. I would wrinkle by brow as if to say, "What are you doing?" and he would wrinkle his brow and shrug his shoulders as if to reply, "nothing". And then we would both silently giggle as my wife sat leaning against the door with a jacket rolled up as a pillow. She was in her own world.
We pulled into our driveway and I slowly and gently informed my wife that we were home. I helped her out of my truck. As I held her on one side; my teacher held her arm on her other side and we slowly began to walk. Just as we approached the entrance of the house, my teacher again reminded his mother of an important remedy to help for how she was feeling at the time.
"Mom you need to go straight to bed right now and it's okay to stay there as long as you need". He expressed.
In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: When you are sick, stay in bed and make sure you get plenty of rest.
About the Author:
I am happy to share with you, the readers, that the stories of "Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke" has been published into a book. The book is available at: partialobserver.com and halcaplan.com (though amazon.com). If you would like a signed copy from My Teacher and me, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work out the details.
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