The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table.  But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about father,” said the son. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”  So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl!  When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”  Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his day, he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

Moral: You reap what you sow. Regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. Always Respect, Care for and Love them.

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'121' Thoughts on a Story

  1. I heard this story back in the ’70s in Hebrew school. I remember telling it to my grandmother, who also knew and cherished the story. It came to me just now, and I am so happy to have found it again. Thank you for posting this. It’s a beautiful story for children and parents!

  2. My head is very square.

  3. I am going to resurrect this story at a school assembly later this week. Tears are mentioned a couple of times in the story. The same kind of tears I have while thinking of my own father who became ravaged with dementia. I sure hope that I never made him worthless and that my kindness was at least somewhat soothing to him.
    Joe M.

  4. This is a great story to use as a Socratic Seminar discussion with students. I have and it’s wonderful. The question I pose for a general Socratic Seminar is: Who is the victim? Initially they say the grandfather, but then, the child and lastly perhaps the parents who learned that behavior from the grandfather who treated his parents that way. If it’s a Child Development/Parenting class I am teaching, I also introduce the poem, Children Learn What They Live, and discuss that. For Socratic Seminar, I print the story and number each line so that when students respond, they can refer to the line that provides evidence that relates to their comments. Such a thought provoking story.

  5. How did it change the life of the old man?

  6. HI i love this story.

  7. It was amazing and i am a student we have a project of this story.

  8. i love this story i really liked the moral too!!!

  9. Wow this story was very good

  10. this story reminds me of my grandpa who passed away i hope i showed him all my kindness and moral values

  11. it is a real nice and interesting story .I really felt nice when the boy answered the father when he asked “what r you doing ?”

  12. This story is extremely good. As I am in grade-5, from grade-1 I am searching for this story. Thanks for posting it.

  13. wow.I love this story!!!

  14. I loved this story so so much that i almost cried and since i am in grade 5 i will read this story each and every night before going to sleep

  15. Hola soy el cometario en español que buscabas :)

  16. I loved this story

  17. A wonderful tale for every wizarding household.

  18. I love this amazing story!

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