A father decides to teach his kid a lesson after hearing his son make fun of another youngster for being the son of a man who packs goods at a supermarket.
I never dreamed I’d have to teach that small mite such harsh life lessons when I first held him in my arms. He seemed natural to me to be lovely, caring, and kind.
I’d forgotten that children may be harsh at times, and that it is our responsibility as parents to lead and mold their personalities so that they grow into decent, loving individuals.
I finished work early one afternoon and went to pick up my 12-year-old kid from school to spend some time with him. I’d recently finished a hard six-month trial and was looking forward to spending some quality time with my family.
I pulled up to the school gates and parked my car. When the bell sounded, an avalanche of youngsters descended on the classroom. I saw my son a few minutes later. He was standing with a group of pals and spoke with a kid I didn’t recognize.
I overheard him saying: “Just because you’re a student here doesn’t mean you’re valuable! You, like your father, the grocery packer, are and always will be a loser!”
I was taken aback. His nasty remarks reverberated in my ears, triggering painful recollections from my own history.
“Sean!” I said as I took two steps forward. My son turned around and smiled when he spotted me.
“Dad!” he said as he dashed towards me. “Is the trial over yet? Did you come out on top?” I stared at his bright, cheerful face, then beyond him at the youngster he had humiliated, who had tears in his eyes.
“Sean, what did I overhear you say to that boy?” I inquired about him.
Where a man originates from has no bearing on his destiny or accomplishments.
“Oh, who is he? Please! He isn’t worth anything! He is a student on a scholarship.”
“Ah…” I began quietly, “which means he gets to come to this school for free since he’s so clever and gifted, yet I pay $50,000 a year for you to go.”
My youngster finished coloring and glanced up at me, surprised. He’d never heard my ‘court’ voice before. “I -I – I guess…” he stammered.
“And what were you saying to him?” says the narrator. I inquired.
“Look, I was just saying… His father works as a food packer at some supermarket, and he’s a genuine loser, you know?”
“Is he a loser? What makes him a loser?” I inquired.
Sean appeared to be concerned about the way the talk was headed. “He’s a shopper who packs groceries! He’s nothing, he’s insignificant! He’s clearly not cut out for anything else!”
“Sean, are you serious? Is it your true opinion?” I inquired, saddened.
“I mean, he’s nothing like you!” Sean responded.
“Son, you might want to learn a bit more about me,” I said. “Come on,” she says.
I walked my kid around the neighborhood where I grew up, showing him the big, gloomy buildings with their tiny corridors and filthy windows. “Sean, I grew up here and attended that school. It was the only thing your grandfather could buy at the time.”
Sean was taken aback and questioned, “Grandpa?” “Grandpa, on the other hand, is the wisest guy I know. He’s an expert on everything!”
“Sean, Grandpa was a garbage guy,” I said. “Because his father died and he had to help his mother care for his siblings and sisters, he never finished high school.
“And he succeeded. No one ever went hungry, and his younger siblings all graduated from high school and found decent careers. I was born after dad met Grandma. Your Grandpa promised me I’d have the chance he never did.
“So he worked 16-hour days to get me into a private school, then into college, and I owe it all to your grandpa if I’m a successful guy today, do you understand?”
“Wow, dad,” Sean said, “he was incredible.”
“He was, and I was pleased with him. But, guess what? When I was in that posh school, several of my classmates taunted me and referred to my father as the garbage guy.
“And the worst thing was that for a split second, I felt embarrassed of him, of that incredible guy who was laying down his life for me.” I never forgot about those boys, and I never forgot about the embarrassment I felt.”
“Dad, that wasn’t your fault!” Sean screamed angrily. “Just because some idiots…” he said before coming to a halt and widening his eyes as he realized what he’d done. “Dad, didn’t I do it to JImmy?”
“You did,” I responded slowly, “and sadly, you stole something from him that you will never be able to return.”
Sean’s eyes were welling up with tears. “Dad, I’ll apologize, and I’ll make amends…”
“Yes, and for the following six weekends, you’ll be packaging groceries at the grocery store to get a sense for what it’s like to work.”
Sean apologized to Jimmy, and while they never became friends, my son respected him, and the other boys learned to treat him decently as a result of his example.
Sean, on the other hand, learnt that whatever task a man performs to support his family has dignity and worth, regardless of the nature of the employment. That is a valuable thing to learn.