A dad who hears his son mock a boy for being the son of a man who packs groceries in a supermarket decides to teach him a lesson.
When I held my son in my hands for the first time, I never imagined I’d have to teach that tiny mite some hard lessons about life. I imagined he’d be naturally sweet, loving, and kind.
I’d forgotten that sometimes children can be cruel and that it is our job as parents to guide them and shape their characters so they become good, caring people.
My son’s mockery leads to a revelation about my past | Source: Shuterstock.com
One afternoon, I wrapped up work early and decided to pick up my 12-year-old son from school and spend some time with him. I’d just been through a grueling six-month trial, and I wanted some quality time with my family.
I parked my car and walked over to the school gates. The bell rang, and immediately an avalanche of children poured out. A few minutes later, I spotted my son. He was standing with some friends and talking to another boy I didn’t know.
I heard him say: “Just because you’re at this school, doesn’t mean you’re worth anything! You’re a loser like your dad, the grocery packer, and you always will be!”
I was stunned. His cruel words echoed in my ears and woke bitter memories from my own past. I took two steps forward and called him, “Sean!” My son turned and saw me, and grinned.
I held my son in my hands for the first time | Source: Unsplash
“Dad!” he cried and ran towards me. “Hey, is the trial over? Did you win?” I looked at his bright, happy face, then I looked beyond him at the tear-filled eyes of the boy he had been humiliating.
“What did I hear you say to that boy, Sean?” I asked him.
“Oh, him? Please! He’s nothing! He’s a scholarship student.”
“Ah…” I said softly, “which means he’s so intelligent and gifted he gets to come to this school for free, while I pay $50,000 a year so you can attend.”
I decided to pick up my 12-year-old son from school | Source: Unsplash
My son colored and looked up at me, startled. He’d never heard my ‘court’ voice before. “I -I – I guess…” he stammered.
“And what were you saying to him?” I asked.
“Look, I was just saying… He’s never…I mean, his dad is a grocery packer at some grocery store, a real loser, you know?”
“A loser? Why is he a loser?” I asked.
I looked beyond him at the tear-filled eyes of the boy | Source: Unsplash
I could see that Sean was worried about the direction the conversation was taking. “He’s a grocery packer! He’s nothing, he’s not important! He’s obviously not good enough for anything else!”
“Really, Sean? Is that what you really think?” I asked him sadly.
“Yeah…I mean, he’s not like you!” Sean answered.
“Son, maybe you need to know a little more about me,” I told him. “Come on.”
His dad is a grocery packer at some grocery store, a real loser | Source: Unsplash
I took my son out to the neighborhood I’d grown up in, showed him the tall, dingy buildings with their narrow hallways and dirty windows. “I grew up here, Sean, I went to that school. It was all your grandfather could afford.”
“Grandpa?” asked Sean in surprise. “But Grandpa is the cleverest man I know. He knows EVERYTHING!”
“Grandpa was a garbage man, Sean,” I told him. “He never had the chance to finish high school because his dad died, and he had to help his mother take care of his brothers and sisters.
“And he did. No one ever went hungry, and his little brothers and sisters finished high school and got good jobs. Then he met Grandma, and I was born. Your Grandpa swore I’d get the opportunity he never had.
Grandfather was a garbage man | Source: Unsplash
“So he worked 16-hour days and he got me into a private school, then into college, and if I’m a successful man today, I owe it all to your grandfather, do you understand?”
“Wow, dad,” Sean said, “he was amazing.”
“Yes, he was, and I was proud of him. But you know what? When I was at that fancy school, some of my colleagues mocked me, called my dad the garbage man.
“And the worse part is that for just one second I was ashamed of him, of that amazing man who was sacrificing himself for me. I never forgave those boys, and I never forgave myself for the shame I felt.”
They made me ashamed of my father | Source: Unsplash
“It wasn’t your fault, dad!” Sean cried indignantly. “Just because some jerks…” and then he stopped, and his eyes widened as he realized what he’d done. “I did that to JImmy, didn’t I, dad?”
“Yes,” I said quietly, “you did, and unfortunately, you took something from him you can never give back.”
Sean had tears in his eyes. “Dad, I’ll apologize, I’ll make it up to him…”
“Yes you will, and for the next six weekends, you’re going to be packing groceries at the grocery store, so you can learn what work feels like.”
Sean apologized to Jimmy | Source: Unsplash
Sean apologized to Jimmy, and even though they never became friends, my son did respect him, and the other boys followed my son’s example and learned to treat him fairly.
As for Sean, he learned that any work a man does to feed his family has dignity and worth, no matter what it is. That is a lesson worth learning.
What can we learn from this story?
- All work is worthy of respect.
- Where a man comes from doesn’t limit his future or his achievements.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who makes friends with the mother of the woman he loves to show her he is sincere.
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