Jewish Journal


September 16, 2009

Life Lessons Learned at the 99 Cent Only Store


On a recent trip to the 99 Cent Only Store, I got more than my share of Ziploc bags and paper goods for under $10.  As I was checking out, an elderly gentleman behind me smiled at my son (who is 3) and I.  While glancing at my son he said, “They teach us more than we can ever teach them.”

I nodded, grabbed my cheap paper goods and headed out to my car.  On my way, I began thinking about what he said, and of all the things I have learned from my son.

This is what I came up with as I made my way to the car (it was a long walk):
1) We are born with our personalities, yet spend a lifetime trying to reinvent ourselves with what is deemed appropriate at the time.
2) We are forced to say “I’m sorry,” even when we are not.
3) We have to share, even when we don’t want to.
4) We learn to lie to please others. “Let’s call Auntie X to tell her how much you love that sweater she knitted for you. Of course it is a much better gift than that train set you wanted. Trains can’t keep you warm.”
5) We learn that we must cover up our feelings. “Please don’t yell at the waiter, because he spilled ice cold apple juice on you, Sweety. It was an accident.”
6) We learn that being polite often means compromising ourselves. (No explanation needed.)
7) We NEVER get hurt. “I know you fell down, but you’re O.K.! Here hold this compress over your bruised ego…I mean knee.”
8) We bend the truth to protect our families. “Of course your cousin loves you even though she doesn’t send you birthday presents or Hanukkah presents or call or visit or…”
9) First we have to get the icky things done, before we can play.  Really? “Put away the toys and then you can go out and play.”
10) Authority always wins. “Because mommy and daddy said so.” and lastly…
11) Doing things on your own, makes you big.

My son challenges me everyday to be the best person I can be.  As cliched as it sounds, it is an extremely difficult task to take on.  I can only trust that what I teach him doesn’t take away from who he is.  I hope that I am on the right track. (From the looks of my list…maybe not.) If I am wrong, (and what parent is, really?), I can only hope that when he is an adult and in therapy to discuss me, his therapist goes easy on me.  And to my son; I apologize in advance.

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