Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 9, 2013

‘Out of the mouths of babes’ comes humility


CNHI

— My most recent humbling experience started innocently enough with a phone call from my middle daughter, the mother of three.





She politely informed me that two of her children, a third grader and a second grader, had volunteered my services as a guest speaker at their elementary school’s career day.







And she reminded me that a good “papaw” never disappoints his grandchildren. Again, guilt reared its ugly head.







 I’d participated in several college and high school career days but didn’t know grade school kids were that anxious to get a jump on the job market.







 I figured that middle school and their own iPad should be their next concerns, not a job to support the families they have yet to acquire.







My wife, a former elementary teacher, pointed out that youngsters at that age need to be exposed to the different ways that adults make a living so that they can begin to understand how the economy works.

How the economy works?







I started worrying that one of them would ask me why the U.S. government stopped using “gross national product” in favor of “gross domestic product.”    







The school called to confirm that I was coming to talk about the newspaper business and my job as a publisher.







That’s when – to my surprise – I learned I would be talking with not one or two classes but with five groups of the little darlings.







I was determined to show or tell the seven and eight-year-olds some things they had not learned at home, at school or on the Internet.







I loaded up the old portable typewriter I used in college and on my first job as a reporter.  I was sure they would be baffled by this strange machine with no monitor, battery or electrical cord.







 I also carefully selected several photos of celebrities I had interviewed, including a former president of the United States. I knew that would make a lasting impression.







 To my surprise, several kids in each class knew it was called a typewriter. One little girl said she had seen one in her uncle’s pawn shop.







 I held up the photo of me shaking hands with President Bill Clinton and asked if they knew the name of the other white-haired man.







I did give them the hint that he was a former occupant of the White House.







No one would even hazard a guess until the last class of the day when a little girl shyly offered her answer:

“George Washington?”

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Keith Kappes is a reporter for The Morehead (Ky.) News. Contact him at kkappes@cnhi.com.