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Memories and Musings: A child’s advice

Some things are just burned into your memory forever, like my mom’s Sunday spaghetti sauce. It’s difficult to pinpoint the triggers to those forever memories; they usually arrive unexpectedly and can often startle you into attention and a long trip down memory lane.

While it’s common to get or seek advice from a peer, expert or the media, we sometimes — with me it was often — receive life-changing and lifelong advice from children. Perhaps my lengthy service as an educator provided me with more opportunity to be enlightened by young minds than those who earned their living in myriad other pursuits.

Treasured moments, like when my four-year-old granddaughter tired of working on a large-piece puzzle and said, “I’m going to pick flowers with grandma. You finish the puzzle and I’ll call you when I need you!” All I could think of when she said that was John Donne: “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Of course, she “called” me many times after that.

Another incident that made me realize that we are no longer dealing with the children of the 50s and 60s, was when my grandson opened a Christmas present — a treasured Tonka truck that I wanted but never got — looked confused, stared at me and asked, “What does it do?” I admit I was a little hurt, but, upon reflection, I learned to give his “treasures” as gifts and not mine.

Finally, while teaching sixth grade in Orchard Park, New York, my only early bus child came into the classroom to find me sorrowfully staring out the window at the rainy Spring morning. She couldn’t have known that I had planned to play nine holes of golf after school. I turned to her and said, “Isn’t it a lousy day!” She looked at me and said, “Mr. G, please don’t judge the day by the weather.” Wow!

We should never be ashamed, and always eager, to listen to the children; we might learn something from their pure, unbridled wisdom.

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.

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