Thursday, October 18, 2012

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

My grandma frequently would give the warning when my younger cousins were around, and we were discussing something secretive: "Little pitchers have big ears." It is one of those things that I wish I could ask her about now. But she left earth way too early, before I married, before I had children. So this has been for years one of those mysterious phrases of hers that I've dusted off and used without understanding. All I knew is that it's something said when the discussion is not meant to be told and children are around. Thanks to Google, I now know that this isn't just a crazy saying unique to my grandma, it's an idiom that's been around since before 1546.
Photo from: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Fun and Nonsense, by Willard Bonte
The phrase contains a truth (although a little buried), that those who are younger are always watching. They are empty vessels, waiting to be filled. It's a warning and an encouragement-- we are leaders, role models to someone. The discussion frequently happens in the media, especially when a professional athlete does something really stupid, and then responds to accusations of being a bad role model with something along the lines of "I never wanted to be a role model." And so the debate goes on: Are they? or Aren't they?

We all are role models. If you are a parent, especially so. If you're not a parent, you are older than lots of people. You may not have achieved personal greatness, but you do have a car, a profession, a driver's license, more life experience than others, which equals a position of authority in many people's eyes. Someone wants to be where you are. to be who you are. Everything we do, say, and think matters. How we react in traffic, in long lines at the grocery stores, when the Christmas bonus comes, or doesn't-- people around us are watching how we react.

Be kind more often. Smile. Love your enemies. Follow the Golden Rule. Never miss an opportunity to be an example by the way you live, and always remember that little pitchers have big ears.
Grandma with the "little pitchers"
*Written in memory of Judith Crutchfield. I can't wait to walk the streets of heaven with you and catch you up on everything you've missed. 

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