A Lesson Learned Ten Years Later…

It was just before the summer hit in Woodbridge, Connecticut, when my cousin Kortney, my mom, and I had to drain and clean my grandparents pool. This was the first year that we were doing it because my grandfather, Shiek, had just hit the age where it was too much trouble for him to do on his own. He would sit above the pool in a chair and make sure we were doing everything the way he wanted it done; and he wanted it done EXACTLY how he pictured it in his head. Throughout the week he had yelled at us for all different stuff over and over. In the beginning we had the pump set up wrong, then we weren’t using the right cleaner, and the list goes on. But there was one situation that my mom, Kortney, and I just couldn’t wrap our head around, the hose situation.

Here’s what was happening; the pool was almost completely drained and we needed to wash the walls. My mom was using the hose and spraying while Kortney and I were brushing the wall when we heard my grandfather hollar, “Stop spraying so much water, we can’t drain the pool if you’re filling it up again.” So we listened and my mom put down the hose, picked up a brush, and started cleaning the walls of the pool. Little did we know, that wasn’t correct either. In about five more minutes he said, “You can’t clean the walls of the pool without water, you have to use the hose and clean the walls.” Confused, we started with our old system again; spraying and cleaning the walls. And just like the sun rising in the morning, my grandfather snapped, “You’re using too much water!”

“Grandpa we have to use it to get the dirt down off the side of the pool.” I stated.

“Not that much you don’t.” He said.

Kortney chimed in with, “Gramps can’t you give us a break, we are trying our hardest down here.”

“Give you a break? I’ll give you a break when you do it right!” He exclaimed.

We all got frustrated at this. He was just sitting up there yelling down at us to do stuff differently, or right in his eyes. At first we didn’t know what to do, if we use the hose we get yelled at and if we don’t we also get yelled at, we were stuck. Then my mom had an idea. She decided we should just spritz the water onto the wall when we need to wash it. This way it will look like we’re not using a lot of water and we will actually be cleaning the wall. What we didn’t expect is for this new way to work far better than the methods we had tried before. We were cleaning the wall faster, more efficiently, and with much less water. Grandpa Shiek didn’t make a peep. After about ten minutes of spritzing the water, my grandfather gave a look of approval, a nod, and went inside.

What I realize now that I didn’t realize then is the fact that he wasn’t sitting out there to yell, he wasn’t sitting out there to try to control the situation, and he wasn’t sitting out there because he was upset with what we were doing, he was sitting out there because we were doing it wrong. My grandfather was trying to teach us in the best way he could how to clean the wall. And it was a better way of teaching than our schools can even employ now. The confidence he had in knowing there was a better way and patience with us to let us learn and make mistakes on our own. The whole time he was sitting up there he completely understood how to clean the pool correctly and never said a thing. He let us waste his water, his time, and his effort just to have us learn lessons that we don’t only remember until tomorrow, but lessons that we look back on ten years later and still learn from. He let us find the right way on our own so that we discovered the best method and felt an extreme sense of accomplishment. We can all learn from the patience, confidence, and teaching that this man took pride in.


R.I.P Grandpa Shiek

Sept. 17, 1924 – Feb. 13, 2011


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