It All Matters

I said, “David, this salt shaker is you. These other things are your friends. I think you have a couple advantages over them. You’re a pretty smart kid and I think you have a good head on your shoulders.”

I moved the salt shaker ahead two steps. “But this week all your friends got their report in on time and yours is late.”

I moved the other objects ahead a space and his shaker back one. “See what happened? They caught up with all your advantages just by being on time. Now they are right there with you, whether or not they are smarter or even as capable. You let the rest of the group catch up to you just by being lazy.”

He just stared at his salt shaker silently.

“I don’t want to lecture you, buddy, but this is how life is always going to be. You are either moving forward or moving backward; it’s not often you stand still.”

He attempted a defense: “I told my mom about this a week ago.”

I smiled and said, “So? Then it was her job to remind you and make sure you got it done?”

He sat quiet again, knowing how weak it sounded.

“Do you get what I am showing you?” I asked. He nodded, and with that I gave him a hug, Grandma gave him a cookie, and Mom came to pick him up.

I didn’t hammer him or belittle him–I just took a minute to point something out. I do it for my friends, why wouldn’t I do it for my kin?

I fully believe those few minutes made an impression. He called the next day. He got an “A” on the report, but it was recorded as a “B” since it was a day late.

“I’ll never let that happen again,” he said, acknowledging that he got the other message. I smiled into the phone and said, “I believe you!”

See? It all matters.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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4 comments on “It All Matters

  1. sue outlaw on said:

    you sound like a GREAT grandpa!

  2. If only it were that easy….I’ve had that conversation (or similar) many times with my teenager over the years. He tries, but eventually backslides into laziness. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you don’t do your work.

  3. What a great way to put things. I have tried over the years to let my kids know that we are a team but in the long run with school, they are the manager and I am the support. They will be the ones answering to the boss about getting work done or not done. I can just help them when they are unsure or need a different set of eyes to look at a problem or question. You can’t do it all for them and there are times they fail to complete things or totally miss the point. But as long as they have some security that someone is there to support them in their efforts, that all we can do.

  4. Barb Burkholder on said:

    Great life lesson in a warm and caring manner. Been there many times with our son, who is now 27. I wish I would have thought about the salt shaker example. I did the best I could at the time. He is now a very responsible adult. We used to read books together in middle school and high school.

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