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My Son, the Janitor

The latest studies on gratitude show definitively that feeling grateful can make you a happier and nicer person. Of course, you have to feel grateful more frequently than once a year to realize any effects. I like to contemplate my gratitude when I’m soaking up the energy from the sun and getting some vitamin D.

One of the things I’m grateful for this year is my wonderful family. From my parents to my siblings to my spouse to my kids, I don’t know what I would do without them.

While the story I’m going to share with you today has nothing to do with eating, that’s the beauty of having your own blog, isn’t it? You get to write whatever you want to write, even if sometimes it doesn’t fall into your stated topic. 🙂  I hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I did.

Last weekend I took my kids to see a blind magician’s show downtown. Yes, it was quite something, to watch a blind magician! He — Chad Allen — does a great show.

We went to the Saturday matinee, which is a kid-focused show. The kids are all invited to sit on the floor in front of the stage, which my kids do. I sit a few rows back at a caberet table with several other parents from my son’s first grade class at the gifted and talented school he attends. He goes to a magnet school that requires test scores of 95th percentile or above for admission.

At one point during the show, the magician tells a story about a terrible curse put on magicians. The only way to lift the curse, he explains dramatically, is to recognize what is the most important thing in life. “I can’t see you,” he reminds them, “so call out your name if you can come up and help me lift this curse.”

All the kids start calling out their names. “Nicholas,” he calls out. “I heard a Nicholas. Come on up here.”

An 8- or 9-year old ascends the stage and stands next to him. Chad instructs him to pick a stone from his black velvet bag and hold it tightly in his fist, without looking at it. He was to think of the most important thing in life and hold it in his mind. Chad moved him off to the side of the stage and three more kids were called up to pick stones.

Chad shakes the bag. “There are only two stones left. I’ve gotten help from the left and from the right, now I’ll pick someone from the center.” Kids are calling out their names. “I hear Sam. Sam, come on up to the stage, please.”

Then you hear this little boy’s voice pipe up from the crowd on the floor. “That’s not fair! He’s not in the center! You’ve already called someone from the left! You said you were going to pick someone from the center!”

I know that voice. I turn to the other parents at the table. “That’s my kid,” I whisper. “He has a finely-tuned sense of justice,” I giggle. That may be an understatement; he deeply believes the world should be a fair place, if perhaps, slightly skewed toward him.

Meanwhile, Chad has invited my son up to the stage as well, to rectify his oversight, so to speak. I think, anyway. I missed the actual invitation while I was talking, but when I turned back around my kid was on stage with Sam.

Sam picks a stone first. Then it is my first grader’s turn. He picks his stone and stands aside.

Chad returns to the first kid. “Nicholas,” he encourages, “tell us what you think is the most important thing in life and help us lift the magician’s curse!”

“I think my family is most important,” Nicholas says.

“Family!” Chad bellows. “Great answer! Now look at your stone and tell me the color.”

“It’s red,” reports Nicholas.

“Aawww…” says Chad. “We’re looking for the only white stone. That’s the one that will tell us when we’ve found the right answer. Thanks for helping, Nicholas!”

He continues through the other kids, who had answers such as fatherhood, love, etc, and red stones. Then he gets to my 7-year old.

“What do you think is the most important thing in life?” he asks him.

“Ummm…” my son starts. “School,” he says decisively.

School?” Chad asks. This may be a first for this answer in his show. “You’re right. School is very important. Look at your stone. Is it the one we’re looking for? Is school the most important thing in life?”

The club was dimly lit or you could have seen me beaming from ear to ear with pride. Yes, that was MY kid who loved school! I must be doing something right as a parent!

My son opens his hand. “It’s white,” he announces.

“Wonderful,” Chad enthuses. “You’ve lifted the curse! Now, tell me, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Without hesitation, my son replies in a clear voice: “A janitor.”

A janitor?

The adults in the room begin tittering. Now I’m sure my face is bright red. I  turn toward the other parents and joke, “At least we won’t have to pay for an Ivy League education?” I offer. “It will be like Good Will Hunting!”

Later I ask him why he wants to be a janitor. “I like to sweep,” he responds, without offering more. Sweep? Perhaps he’d like a little more practice at home before embarking on this particular career track!

Kids. They constantly surprise and amuse me. I hope this brought a smile and laughter to your day of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy eating to all!

Posted in: Kids, Misc.

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