Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame

They're Wiser Than I Thought

Story ID:5613
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Tantallon Nova Scotia Canada
Person:My Kids
View Comments (5)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors
As a parent, I wanted my kids to know the difference between right and wrong. I
firmly believed the best way to do this is by example. It does no good to tell your child not
to do something when they see you doing it. They only think, “Daddy does it; it must be

I learned this the hard way.

My Daughter, Vanessa, was six and my son, Justin, was three. Vanessa had picked
up a few swear words – probably from me.

I told her it was wrong, but she said, “But, Daddy, we hear you swearing.”

“You’re right, Honey.” I replied. “Daddy does swear, but that doesn’t make it
right. Daddy shouldn’t swear either. If you hear me swearing, you have my permission to
point it out to me and tell me it’s wrong. You can help daddy learn not to do it anymore.”

This seemed to satisfy her.

At the time we lived in a mobile home. Space was limited. We were constantly in
each other’s way. One bathroom for four people was not enough, so we decided to build an
addition. We built a large connecting room and completely renovated the mobile. Today you
can't tell that it was once a trailer. The new addition was 34’ by 35’. We also added a second
bathroom off of our bedroom, a place just for my wife and I. We installed all of the modern
conveniences available at the time: whirlpool tub, shower stall, toilet, sink and even a bidet.

My wife wanted the tub, vanity and sink surrounded with Formica. She chose a
lovely green marble pattern. The installation price quoted by our contractor was more than
we could afford, so, like most men who like tools and enjoy using their hands, I decided to
do it myself. I studied books and asked those with experience what the proper method of
installation was. Soon I was a self-proclaimed an expert.

The first step was to cut the Formica into the desired shapes and sizes, then glue
them to the wood, and trim the edges with a router. “Simple enough,” I thought to myself.
Before starting, I covered the new flooring with newspaper to catch any glue that might drip.
I chose our new vanity as my work area. The sink hadn’t been installed yet, but it was a
large flat area, perfect for what I needed. I covered this area with newspaper as well,
including the hole where the sink would go. I put the first pieces of Formica to be installed
on the vanity face down, and opened the gallon of contact cement. Carefully, I picked up the
can, sat it on the vanity, and watched it disappear through the newspaper and through the
hole for the sink. It crashed to floor below, spraying glue everywhere.

I stood there trying to comprehend this strange happening. Glue ran down my shins
and over the new slippers I received for Christmas. I began to curse and stomp around.
With every step, my glue-soaked slippers collected more newspaper.

My wife and kids came running. They stood in the doorway watching a glue-
covered, cursing maniac, stomping around with a weeks worth of newspaper sticking to his
feet. Georgia began to laugh, but the kids were strangely quiet.

A few days later, while we were out for our evening walk, Vanessa said, “Daddy?”

“Yes, Hun?”

“You know how you told us we should point out when you swear?”

“Yes, Vanessa. Daddy shouldn’t swear. You should always tell me to stop.”

“We heard you swear the other day.”

“You did? When?”

“When you spilled the glue.”

“Why didn’t you tell me to stop?”

She looked up at me with her innocent eyes. “Daddy, we didn’t think it was a good
time to say anything.”

I learned a lesson that day. It had nothing to do with swearing. I needed to listen to
my kids more closely. They’re much wiser than I thought.

Michael T. Smith