We All Can Learn

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.

As the summer begins and our visitors leave, we remember the funny things that occurred, especially if much younger children are part of the entourage—our grandchildren. Staring us in the face, before too long, is the end of the year fast approaching, which will find, once more, an onslaught of visitors. The time has changed but not the experiences. It reminded me of an essay I once read, as follows:

As summer approached, a teacher asked her young pupils how they would spend their summer away from school. One child wrote the following:

“We always used to spend the summer with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to a senior community where everyone lives in nice little houses, and so they don’t have to mow the grass anymore! (or pick up rocks!)

They ride around on their bicycles and scooters and wear name tags because they don’t know who they are anymore. They go to a building they call the wreck center, but they must have got it fixed because it is all-okay now. They do exercises there, but they don’t do them very well. There is a swimming pool, too, but they all jump up and down in it with hats on.

At their gate, there is a dollhouse with a little old man sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out and go cruising in their golf carts.

Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And, they eat the same thing every night—early birds. Some of the people can’t get out past the man in the dollhouse. The ones who do get out bring food back to the wrecked center for potluck.

My grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment, and say I should work hard so I can be retarded someday, too. When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the dollhouse. Then I will let the people out, so they can visit their grandchildren.”

Out of the mouths of babes! That is what I thought when I read it. It certainly is amazing what children see and perceive. I believe we all have the same difficulties at times when we see something we do not quite understand.

Perhaps we can learn from this essay. To me, the lesson is that we should think about what we witness and use caution before jumping to conclusions. More often than not, we see things that are not there or really do not matter. The next time we think we know what we saw or heard, stop and re-read the essay. It certainly is timeless.

I guess we can all learn from children. What a refreshing idea!