When most of us were kids, we probably sat down, most nights, around the dinner table. With our parents, and all our siblings. If we were lucky.
In our family, as I recall, there used to be the standard fare of conversation at the beginning of each meal. “Pass the bread, Julie.” “Hurry up with the potatoes Jerry.” “Polly, your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” On on.
And then, once we were settled in, we would get to the other things. The parental interrogations. Maybe interrogate is too strong a word. It was more like the customary “get-to-know-you” talk.
Dad: “How was your day?”
Dad: “Well what did you learn today?”
It always seemed to follow this same line of questioning, and standard-answering.
Never once, when Dad asked me, did I vary from the norm. But I wonder if I had.
Dad: “How was your day Polly?”
8-Year-Old-Me: “You know Dad, truthfully? It was for total crap. I’ll tell you bud. Sister Adriana is worse than Satan himself. Every time I am sitting in the hallway, filling out my workbook, she storms down the hall, heals clanking on the linoleum, and we never know which one of us is going to get busted on the forehead, and drug out of our chair. It’s like the “Whack-A-Mole” game Dad. And we are the moles. Gawd, I hate that place. Can I transfer to the Public School? I’ve been a Catholic now for eight years now, and it doesn’t seem to be working out so good.”
That would have been a conversation. I imagine if that had come out of my mouth, there would have been about four siblings who might have needed the Heimlich Maneuver.
But really, what I was thinking about, was the second segment of my Dad’s questions.
“What did you learn today?” I’d always answer, thoughtfully, and respectfully. Trying to discern exactly what I HAD learned that day.
I know this much. We all learn something every day. We surely do. Whether or not we take notice of it, or not, is an entirely different matter. I know somedays, I learn things, and I do not give them a second thought. Or, depending on our age, we may just be getting reminded anew. Either way, I think it is a good practice to take notice, and review, the things we have learned.
They say, that you can’t fix something unless you acknowledge that there is something broken. I believe, in this same way, you can’t really learn anything new until you spend some time giving it proper attention. No matter what the lesson.
And when it all filters down, we can always know we’ve learned about three things.
People matter. Our thoughts and actions matter.
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
― Albert Einstein
“Let the improvement of yourself keep you so busy that you have no time to criticize others.”
― Roy T. Bennett
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
― Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics