Monday, August 10, 2009

Teach him gently, if you can

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.
~Abraham Lincoln

I read this poem in an article in the Marietta Daily Journal this past Sunday.  I thought how appropriate for the first day of school.  Hard to believe my babies started PK4 and 1st grade today.  

Teach him gently, if you can.

My young son starts to school tomorrow. It's all going to be strange and new to him for a while, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently.

You see, up to now, he's been our little boy. He's been boss of the back yard. His mother has always been around to repair his wounds, and I've always been handy to soothe his feelings. But now things are going to be different. This morning he's going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start out on a great adventure. It's an adventure that will probably include wars and tragedy and sorrow. To live his life, in the world he will live in, requires faith and love and courage. So, world, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know. Teach him, but gently, if you can.

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true. Teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero, and that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend.

It will take time, world, I know, but teach him if you can, that a nickel earned is of far more value than a dollar found. Teach him to learn to lose, and to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can, and teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Let him learn quickly that the bullies are the easiest people to lick.

Teach him if you can, the wonder of books, but also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hillside.

In school, teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough people.

Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men, but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen on truth and take only the good that comes through.

Teach him, it you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure, and despair in success. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brains to the highest bidders, but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob, and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right.

Teach him gently, world, but don't coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient. Let him have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind. This is a big order world, but see what you can do. He's such a fine little fellow, my son! 

- Dan Valentine, published in Ideals Scrapbook, 1961 Ideals Publishing Co.


No comments:

Post a Comment