Town Talk Features

Parent Trap: 12.11.19

living the holiday spirit
Ten runners lined up at the starting blocks to run the 100-yard dash at a Special Olympics event. They were all very motivated to finish the race, and of course, each wanted to win. The gun sounded, and they all started running; everyone, that is, except for one little girl who tripped on the starting block, fell and skinned her knee. The other runners noticed what happened. Instead of continuing the race, they stopped and walked back to her, all nine of them. One boy reached down to help her up, and another girl kissed the top of her head and told her that she would be OK. Then, all of the participants linked arms and walked across the finish line together. It was reported that the cheering from those watching went on for 5 minutes.

I wonder what our families, schools and communities would be like if we all followed the example of those children. What if we all took a moment to put our own interests aside and help each other? With the multitude of problems, chaos, discontent and anger in the world right now, perhaps the solution is more simple than we make it out to be. The following story just might hold the key to bringing back a spirit of peace and joy, which is truly what this time of year is all about.

A young sociology professor sent his class out to visit a Baltimore slum to interview 200 disadvantaged boys and predict their chances for success in the future. The students, shocked by the living conditions, predicted that about 90% of the boys they interviewed would someday serve time in prison. Twenty-five years later, the same professor assigned another class to find out how the predictions had turned out. Of the 190 boys they were able to locate, only four had ever spent time in jail. Why had the students’ predictions been so wrong?

More than 100 of the men remembered one high school teacher, Miss O’Rourke, as having been an inspiration in their lives. After a long search, the class found Sheila O’Rourke, now more than 70 years old. But when they asked her to explain her influence over her former students, she was puzzled. “All I can say,” she finally decided, “is that I loved each and every one of them.”

Perhaps The Beatles were right: All you need is love. Happy holidays.

Tim Jordan, M.D., is a behavioral pediatrician who works with girls in grade school through college in his counseling practice and camps. His newest book is Letters from My Grandfather: Timeless Wisdom for a Life Worth Living. For more information, visit