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Sunday, Sep 24, 2017
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Kramer: You're never too young, too old to learn

Ever forgotten the name of someone you know, someone you recognize but can't remember from where? Ever forgotten how to get somewhere you've been numerous times before? Me, too, and sometimes it's scary or embarrassing or just frustrating. But when it happened to me recently, I was amazed, awed and delighted by the help that arrived. Recently on a two-week cruise with some of my family I found myself intimidated by the huge size of the vessel. From stem to stern it had to have been about 1,000 feet long, with seemingly endless corridors accompanied by myriad dining rooms and recreation areas. Maps were thoughtfully provided along with activity destinations, but they didn't help me when a specific need arose one evening during dinner. Excusing myself from the family, I announced that I needed to visit the ladies' room but wasn't sure exactly where the nearest one was located. To my amazement, my 4-year-old granddaughter Jayden jumped from her chair, announcing, "Memaw, I can show you where it is."
Taking off at a running pace that I found challenging to keep up with, she led me on a five-minute trek through a maze of passageways, through the ship's atrium and into a tiny hollow of a hallway I had never even noticed. Beaming triumphantly, she announced, "Here it is!" On the return journey she explained that to get to the bathroom you had to follow Route 66 to Chicago. Dumbfounded, I asked her what she meant. She bent down and carefully pointed to a black line in the carpet clearly marked Route 66 with a big interstate symbol. Following her as she led me back to our dining room, we arrived at the doorway and once again she pointed to the carpet and said with a grin, "See? Chicago!" On the floor in big black letters was the word she spoke. Returning to the family table, I shared my awe at her ability to help me find my way. She knows the alphabet but is not really reading just yet. And how did she know which trail to follow? I was truly amazed. My son-in-law laughed and explained that Jayden had been there many, many times "to potty" just that day and had memorized the way and his explanation. Later that evening as I crawled into bed, I found myself reflecting upon how things change and how what goes around, comes around. For four years I have helped Jayden learn lots of new things about the world as we played together or I took care of her so her parents could have an evening out. I taught her about books and toys; what was safe and what was dangerous; where to go to have fun. And suddenly, for those brief moments on the ship, our roles reversed and she taught me. The take-home of this moment is the lesson that you're never too young to teach or too old to learn. Infants can teach us patience as we earn the ability to understand their language and meet their needs. And then the moment arrives when they can return this favor. Thanks, Jayden.

Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at JudyandOz@tampabay.rr.com. She is author of "Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into their Old Age."
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