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A mother needs a child to teach

May 11, 2017 By Betty Starks Case

Mothers Day is coming, and here's the lowdown:

"There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs better than trying to explain them to a child," observed politician and lawyer Frank A. Clark many years ago.

I met Mr. Clark recently online while searching for a bit of wisdom on why mothers become mothers, so I could celebrate the upcoming holiday.

I'd never heard of Clark, but he was such a wise man, I just had to invite him in to my own philosophy.

I remember as a child myself asking my somewhat reluctant mother where babies came from. After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, she suggested, "You've been raised in the country. Surely you've seen how animals reproduce?"

Well, sure. But I was shocked and amazed. Was I to presume a similar procedure applied to the creation of humans, advanced as they are?

My schoolteacher mother would likely agree with Mr. Clark when he added, "A child, like your stomach, doesn't need all you can afford to give it."

So with my awe-inspired explanation, and my younger sister's enhanced understanding, Sis later insisted she didn't know until her first child was born that he wasn't going to exit her navel.

But God wasn't through with me yet.

"Every adult needs a child to teach," Mr. Clark continued. "It's the way we adults learn."

I'm reminded of the day a little boy in a restaurant taught me to see the wonder in a common house fly.

"There it goes!" Danny shouted, arms waving and brown eyes a-dance.

I didn't know the child, somewhere between 2 and 3 years of age. But I was sensing something I'd never felt before.

"It's in our window!" he called excitedly to me at the next table, inviting me to join in the wonder.

His sunlit blonde hair bounced this way and that as he ignored his lunch to track the awesome fly.

In just a few minutes, Danny was teaching me to look with more reverence on this world - on the fly and the flower, and the awe that shines in the eyes of a child.

If I could attune myself to a child's response to life, I thought, I'd be ever so wise and aware.

"What more do you know about this parent-child relationship, Mr. Clark?" I asked, flipping through the computer pages.

"If you haven't time to help youngsters find the right way in life," the wise man responded, "then somebody with more time will help them find the wrong way."

Ahhh. Now you're speaking of someone I know - an alert school teacher who was well aware of the right way and made certain her children were, too. This was the one who taught them to watch for rubies in the sands of life, to not let the treasures slip through their fingers, unnoticed.

Like God, Mr. Clark isn't through with me yet, either.

"The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them, " he says firmly, yet almost as if reluctant to offer the thought.

Is my sage new friend just trying to muddy the mix here?

I repeated this disturbing philosophy to a few other mothers. Some looked startled. Some eyes filled with tears.

But I agree with my friend, and so would my own mother, a true teacher. She believed in helping children to know themselves, to understand their own strengths and abilities.

She'd want them to realize that the rest of the world does not see all the great talent she sees in them. She loved them enough to teach the truth, that modesty isn't about destroying one's self-confidence. It's in knowing how to wear it.

Finally, I never forget the teenage girl who sat with her friend atop a far hill and watched their schoolhouse burn to the ground.

One girl cried as her beloved school burned. The other girl laughed.

The one who cried would become my mother.

This Mother's Day and every one, I am feeling so blessed.

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2017-10-22