Late April, May, June …
Yes, that’s a real four-leaf clover. Here’s the story …
That’s Ted, at age seven the oldest of my four grand kids. We’re in Central Park together, with my daughter Emily and son-in-law Hamish. The kids have been playing in a nook – it could have been a cranny – and now we wander off to a grassy expanse bordering the Met. The place is carpeted in clover, and Ted gets it into his head that he’s going to find a four-leafed variety.
This is my opportunity to impart some wise grandfatherly wisdom. This is based on a Calvin and Hobbes strip from way way back. Boy Calvin asks his imaginary tiger friend if he had a wish, what would he wish for? Hobbes replies a sandwich.
“A sandwich?” responds Calvin. “What kind of stupid wish is that?” Calvin pointedly reminds him of all he is missing out on. The last panel shows Hobbes, content with his sandwich. “I got what I wished for,” is his reply.
I once wrote my own version of this, as a parable involving a sage holding up a three-leaf clover. Now, here in the park, I venture for my three-leaf clover, salivating over the lesson I am about to teach. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Ted making a beeline for a certain clover. Thanks to cataract and lens surgery from five or six months before, my eagle eye spots a certain anomaly in the clover my grandson is zeroing in on.
No! It can’t be! Ted is holding up a four-leaf clover.
Later, I find out that the odds of finding a four-leaf clover are something like one in ten thousand. I never found one in my life, nor do I recall any of my childhood associates ever finding one.
So now, thanks to an odd twist of fate, I find myself humbled: The teacher has become the student, the student the teacher. This, of course, is as it should be. Every day, our kids and grandkids are presenting us with unexpected lessons. If we’re smart, we pay attention and maybe acquire a bit of wisdom in the process. And maybe, over time, we earn the right to pass ourselves off as old sages. Or old fools. Same thing, really …
Within hours of posting this, I happened to be walking down a side street in a town in NJ. I looked down at the greenery below, admiring the micro-universe of dew drops sparkling along the clover leafs. I thought of my grandson’s incredibly lucky find. I peered down. I didn’t see anything specific, but already I was reaching down, as if to retrieve something. Then the object presented itself. Unbelievable!