Words To Grow On
As a youngster, there was nothing I liked better than Sunday afternoons
at my grandfather's farm in - western Pennsylvania. Surrounded by miles
of winding stone walls, the house and barn provided endless hours of fun
for a city kid like me. I was used to neat-as-a-pin parlors that seemed
to whisper, "Not to be touched!"
I can still remember one afternoon when I was eight years old. Since my
first visit to the farm, I'd wanted more than anything to be allowed to
climb the stone walls surrounding the property. My parents would never
approve. The walls were old; some stones were missing, others loose and
crumbling. Still, my yearning to scramble across those walls grew so
strong that finally, one spring afternoon, I summoned all my courage and
entered the living room, where the adults had gathered after Sunday dinner.
"I, uh - I wanna climb the stone walls," I said hesitantly. Everyone
looked up. "Can I climb the stone walls?"
Instantly a chorus went up from the women in the room. "Heavens, no!"
they cried in dismay. "You'll hurt yourself!"
I wasn't too disappointed; the response was just as I'd expected. But
before I could leave the room, I was stopped by my grandfather's booming
"Now hold on just a minute," I heard him say. "Let the boy climb the
stone walls. He has to learn to do things for himself."
"Scoot," he said to me with a wink. "And come see me when you get back."
For the next two and a half hours I climbed those old walls - and had
the time of my life. Later I met with my grandfather to tell him about
my adventures. I'll never forget what he said.
"Fred," he said, grinning,"you made this day a special day just by being
yourself. Always remember, there's only one person in this whole world
like you, and I like you exactly as you are."
Many years have passed since then, and today I host the television
program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, seen by millions of children
throughout America. There have been changes over the years, but one
thing remains the same: my message to children at the end of almost
every visit. "There's only one person in this whole world like you," the
kids can count on hearing me say, "and people can like you exactly as
[ by: Fred Rogers, Guideposts, Copyright © 1989 (www.guideposts.org) -- from 'WIT and WISDOM' ]
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