A few weeks ago, I was going through some old papers, cleaning out "clutter". I came across a story titled "The Wooden Bowl". I sat down to read it and I have not been able to get it out of my mind.
It is a story about an old man who moves in with his son and family. There is a four-year-old grandchild also involved in the story. The family begins to eat dinner every night together but because the grandfather is frail, dinnertime becomes a bit of a challenge.
The old man drops food and spills beverages and even breaks some of the plates. The son becomes very annoyed by all of this and decides to set up a small table in the corner for the old man to eat at by himself. He is given a wooden bowl to eat out of so he does not break any more dishes.
Sometimes there is a tear in the grandfather's eye as he eats all alone, but the younger couple remain annoyed by his messiness. Their four-year-old watches all of this but never says a word. Then, one evening the son notices his child playing on the floor with some small pieces of wood. When the young father asks his son what he is doing, the child replies, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food when I grow up."
The son and wife were speechless. The very next evening they bring the grandfather back to the table. Even though the old man's eating habits were still messy, they never say another word to him.
If you are part of the "sandwich generation," looking after elderly relatives while raising your own children, then this story will mean something to you. Or if you are just watching your own parents age through the years, it will bring home its important message. As a mother and a teacher, I am well aware that children learn as much through actions as the written word. Parents are their first and greatest teachers. Remember this story of the wooden bowl.