This I Believe

Lise - Setauket, New York
Entered on October 17, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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The Cover, the Book, and For All It Is Worth

A mother is always teaching her children. Day in and day out we continue to throw little bits of information at them hoping they catch one or two lessons in their giant net of “right and wrongs.” Last year, I had an opportunity to teach a valuable and great life lesson to my two daughters while we watched an episode of Survivor together. Survivor is a game of will and determination. It is also a game of alliances. Outwit, outplay or be ousted.

It was last season, the show had just kicked off, and teams were split up by gender and age. One group was comprised of ‘older women’ and I felt very comfortable calling them ‘sisters’ and quietly rooted for Team Casaya as they clumsily made their way through Panama’s obstacles. The camera panned down to the ocean where Tina sat with her back to the lens and crashing waves broke the silence of this island’s tension. Tina cut into the sand with battered driftwood, but we couldn’t see what she wrote – we had to form our own opinion on what she might be carving in the white virgin sands. The camera turned back to camp and we were guided by the members of Casaya for Tribal Council was near – someone would be voted off. “Why isn’t she sitting with us?” “What’s the matter with her?” “Tina should go.” The tribe’s implication was clear. My girls, ages 10 and 8, turned to me and wholeheartedly agreed, “Mom, they’re right – Tina should go. Just look at her.”

“Yes, girls…look very carefully at her.” They didn’t understand my intention, but certainly heard the tone in my voice which made them sit straighter and stare longer. “Not so fast girls – not so fast.” I, along with my preaching, was quickly dismissed…until the end of the show.

Tina wrote slowly, gently embedding her heartbroken song into the shoreline’s soul, “Charlie.” With tears streaming down her cheeks this mother sat seaside and together, at that very moment, we learned why she walked off in search of peace. Charlie, her only son, was tragically killed just before she set foot on Exile Island to play the game of mental strength. Her voice called out to him. My girls wept. I did too, but I sat motionless on our couch not offering any comfort for I believed they had an important and precious lesson to learn. My girls had to feel their own pain and understand they were too quick to judge someone else’s story and life. Sadly, Casaya assumed and Tina was voted off. Although my daughters sat motionless and speechless, I truly believe seven little words were caught in their giant net that autumn evening – “Never judge a book by its cover.” So simply said, so easily preached, yet at times so difficult to apply…

May our children’s nets be forever open to catch the cover, the book, and all that lies in between.