Night before last, as I lay in bed with Elihu and we chatted, recounting the events of the day, he asked if he could recite a new poem he’d just learned that day in school. It told the story of a frog and a bird who posed challenges to each other based on what they knew of the world from their own experiences. In the end, each was surprised by the other – because his opponent possessed qualities that he himself had never before imagined possible. A moment passed in silence, as we both considered the ramifications of the story.
“I think I know what the moral is,” Elihu said. Then, without missing a beat, he continued:
“Never assert yourself as the best until you know your contenders.”
We parents are continually amazed by the things our children say, and so often we think we’ll remember them, but in spite of our best intentions, we just don’t. I know myself well. I knew that I wouldn’t remember it – as beautiful as it was – unless I wrote it down. So I pulled myself in a groggy daze out of bed, found my dry erase marker and wrote it on our kitchen board. Glad I did, because it was a lovely little surprise this morning. Makes me happy to know that I’ve replaced myself here on this earth with such a thoughtful human being.