We just turned the classic (72 convertible) over to the valet parker. We're walking toward the water (and hence, a cold adult beverage and a burger!) when we pass by a couple with their three kids. In my usual shy and retiring manner, I say hello. The mom says to me, "Don't mind them, they're a little crazy." She was referring to her children. "Okay," says I. "They'll fit right in!" She quips, "Do you want to take them home?" Whereupon the 16 year old (I know because he informed me he was 16) says to her, and I quote, "I'm not going anywhere with that old grandpa!" Can't say that I blame him, but I was somewhat surprised that his parents didn't suggest that it was an inappropriate thing to say. In the ensuing commentary, it because quite clear that the child had special needs. His chronological age and maturity level were not in sync. We walked on. The burger was good. The beer was cold. The company was, as always when we are together. witty, charming, and clever. (At least we think so!) But in the back of my little pea brain, there was this niggling presence. It wasn't because he was spot on the age thing. It wasn't because he really didn't know not to say what he said. It was a hope...a hope that when we were gone, the parental units made use of a teachable moment. My guess is, he has endured his share of snide and/or deprecatory comments. And it has been my experience in the classroom that those comments most frequently come from people who have extremely poor self-image. The concept? I will feel better about myself if I put someone else down. And I have discovered they are self-engendering. When done to us, we tend to "do them" to someone else. Do unto others before they can do unto us. And then I realized the young man had become, like so many of the people I meet, my teacher!
These are the truths he "reviewed". 1) Always remember, polite is polite regardless of the situation. Everyone deserves respect immediately. It is not a quantity to be earned, but something that can be lost. 2) Every encounter can provide a method to improve, or at least re-establish the tenets of our survival. 3) sometimes, the ugliest of truths can set you free. I am way old enough to be a grandpa. And as such, I can get by with so much more thanks to people explaining my behavior as age-related! Behind every cloud there is a silver lining! Sometimes, you just need to get the silver polish out to enjoy it! Thanks, you 16 year old teacher, for giving me my lesson! You obviously had it "Wright!" (and just to prove the "witty, charming, and clever" comment above, that would be the name of the silver polish in our cupboard!) Quit groaning and know you are loved!