Thursday, March 24, 2011

Benjamin Helps

In the summer of 1996 the kids and I came home, to Canada, from Tennessee to spend six wonderful weeks in Lockeport with my Mom and Dad. We went fishing and to the beach and made fires on the rocks to roast marshmallows and hot dogs. Mom and Dad had a wood stove and even though it was summer time, Dad still humoured the kids by building a fire every day and letting them help him. One would get the kindling, another would be in charge of getting the paper and one would get the matches. They would all crowd around the stove watching the fire catch the paper and lick at the wood until Dad would close the door and open the dampers to let it burn.

Having watched Grampy so closely, all three kids knew how to start a good fire, so it was no wonder that that piece of knowledge would cause some great 'excitement' a little later on. Dad and I took the kids to visit his brother Russ and his wife Kay. Russ and Dad have always been close, much like Benjamin and Matthew. The bond of brothers is pretty special. Benjamin has always tried to take care of people and if something needs doing, he just does it without being asked. It was no different then, even though he was only seven years old.

Russ wanted to show the kids and Dad his smoke house where he was smoking the mackeral that we had caught earlier in the week. We all admired the nice smoke house he had built and was just standing near it talking when flames started shooting up the side of the building. Russ quickly got inside and put the fire out and then we noticed Benjamin. He couldn't understand why Uncle Russ would put his fire out. He had noticed that while Grampy could build a great fire, Uncle Russ, his brother, could not. Uncle Russ' fire just smoldered in the sawdust and there was only a little smoke coming from it and there were no flames, so Benjamin decided to help by putting small branches and more saw dust on it. He blew on it, like he had seen Grampy do to a fire to get it started, and it worked. He had built a great fire and he was pretty proud of himself. He had been feeling bad that Uncle Russ couldn't build a fire so he had wanted to help. So you can imagine his disappointment when Uncle Russ put it out.

We soon explained to Benjamin the difference between a fire in a smoke house and a 'Grampy' fire. He wasn't impressed. What was the sense of having a fire that was only smoke? We all got a good laugh at that and Uncle Russ just shook his head. Our children learn by watching us. Sometimes we intentionally teach them by showing them how to do something, but more often than not, they learn by observing us and copying what we do. Benjamin learned to help people because he saw the people around him helping others.

We teach our children kindness by being kind. We teach them to be polite by speaking politely around them. We teach them grace by showing forgiveness and we teach them love by loving them. My Dad has taught all three of our children so many things by letting them help him do things. The boys have helped to paint his boat when they were only three and four years old. They have learned how to gut fish. He taught them how to make a fire and ride a bike and swim. But the most important thing that he has ever taught them is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and spirit. He has not only taught them this in word but by the way he lives as well. He has been an example to them and they have watched him and learned from him.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7

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