There are two basic ways we teach. It is by example and by word of mouth. What you tell your children means very little if it is not fully supported by example. It’s a horrible way to teach when you say, “You see me smoking? Don’t you do it because it’s bad for your health. You may end up with lung cancer and die”. It’s better not to tell them anything if that’s what you are doing. The old saying, “Monkey see, monkey do” is not always correct.
When the school teaches our kids that we came from monkeys they would profit by reading a poem written by monkeys.
“Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree, discussing things as they were said to be. Said one to the others, “Now listen you two, there’s a certain rumor that can’t be true. That man descended from our honorable race, the very idea is a dare disgrace. No monkey ever left his wife, starved her babies and ruined her life. You’ll never know a mother monk, to leave her babies with others to bunk. They never pass them from one to another, till they scarcely know who is their mother.
There is another thing you’ll never see, a monk build a fence around a coconut tree, and let all the coconuts go to waste, forbidding all other monks a taste. Why, if I put a fence around all the trees, starvation would force you to steal from me.
And another thing a monk won’t do, go out at night and get on a stew. Or use a gun or club or knife, to take some other monkey’s life.
Yes, man descended, the honory cuss, but brother, he sure didn’t descend from us.”
Andy and Jack were arguing over who was to get the first pancake. The mother said, “If Jesus were here He would give the first pancake to his brother. The youngest boy looked at his brother and said, “Andy, you play the part of Jesus today.” Living by example is not always easy.
Children generally look on their parents as saints or sinners. It isn’t long before they see that their parents are not perfect. When their parents fuss or argue or yell and holler, they are watching and listening. When parents are kind and considerate this too is a powerful force in their image making. The balance is what they tend to judge by.
If parents, as a rule try to do right and are loving and kind in the eyes of the kids they are perfect and can do no wrong. On the other hand, when they fuss and fight and always find fault with one another, this is a mark that they are bad and their image will be negative. The conclusion is simple. The positive image or the negative one is set before them hour by hour and day by day. There is no power like the marvel of a good example. If you are good they forgive you automatically when you slip. When the image is negative, there’s no place to go but down.
When I was in high school certain poems really impressed me. Here’s one I liked very much. “They walked together down the lane beneath the shining stars. He lifted for her the iron-gate, he lifted for her the bar. She looked up at him with her big brown eyes, their was love upon her brow; but he was only the hired man and she was a Jersey cow.”
There’s another one that goes with this column and for the life me I could never tell you why I banked it in my memory. It’s unique and I don’t even know the author.
“A crab unto it’s progeny, thou walketh so lopsidedly. A steady gait and straight ahead is more becoming and well bred.” “But mama, show me if you can”, replied the young crustacean.
The mother’s effort was an attic; pedantic, frantic and unromantic. A wiggling wobbling, jerking, clawing, bulging eyes and head seesawing. A work ill fitted to inspire, reflect, affection or desire. The infant crab replied distracted, “O mama, mama, how you acted!”
Moral one; Parent avoid such exhibitions, before your children of condition, they mock your worthy exposition.
Moral two; Example is the only teacher, for man or crab or any creature.
This column takes me back about 55 years. I was married and we had one small son. We had just offered thanks for our supper and Jack Jr. did what any little boy of three shouldn’t do. He turned over his small glass of milk. I was on his case immediately and half way out of my chair I scolded him for being so careless.
As I started to sit down I bumped the quart jar of tea over and it went splashing all over the food and table.
As I said, “Example is the only teacher, for man or crab or any creature.