The Old Man and His Grandson
Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm (1790-1840)
Once upon a time there was a very old man, so old that this eyes had grown dim, his ears were hard of hearing, and his knees trembled. When he sat at the table, he could barely hold his spoon, and often he spilled soup on the tablecloth, while some of it would also drip from his mouth. His son and daughter-in-law found this disgusting and eventually forced the old grandfather to sit in a corner behind the stove. They gave him his food in a clay bowl and very little at that. Whenever he would glance sadly in the direction of the table, tears would well up in his eyes.
One day his hands trembled so much that he could not even hold on to the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young woman scolded him, but he only sighed and did not respond. So for a few pennies she bought him a wooden bowl, and from then on he had to eat out of that. Some time later, as they were sitting there again, the small four-year-old grandson was piecing together some wooden planks on the ground.
“What are you doing?” asked the father.
“I’m making a little trough,” answered the child. “My mother and father shall eat out of it when I grow up.”
The husband and wife looked at each other for a while and soon began to weep. Within seconds they brought the old grandfather back to the table, and from then on they always let him eat with them. Nor did they ever say anything again if he happened to spill a little something here and there.
Reflection by Ken Willers
A parent mentioned to me the other day that her child comes home from school everyday and repeats the story I told that morning. She added, “It was proof that our children really do listen.”
Yes, our children really do listen to the “stories” we tell. More importantly, our children truly absorb the words we say and the values we communicate. How we speak about others, different cultures or nationalities are heard by our children--for the good or for the bad. Perhaps, this awareness will challenge us to reflect on what “stories” we tell, what “values” we communicate and what “lessons” we pass on to our children through our own words and actions.
We may not live in a “fairy tale” world...but we do live in a world that we create and then we pass that world on to our children. Our vision lives in the stories we tell.