Lessons from “The Miracle Worker”

Many people know that Talladega, Alabama is home to all things related to car racing. You will find a ⅓ mile, high banked, red clay oval there, and museums galore related to the sport. What many may not realize is that Talladega is also home to one of the most important schools in the country. Most of the students there will never drive because they are blind.

The Helen Keller School is part of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. It was named after a young girl who, due to an illness before she was two, was left deaf and blind. Her name was Helen Keller and she was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

There is a movie, as well as a play, based on her life and relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan. If you have never seen it, I highly recommend it. You won’t see any naked people or hear any foul language, and you might just learn something. I know I did.

There is a very important scene about 45 minutes in that all parents could learn from. Helen was allowed, by her parents, to walk around the dining room and take food from people’s plates as she wished and eat with her fingers. Now there are certain foods, of course, that are made to be eaten with the fingers — but mashed potatoes are certainly not one. I mention that because if you have ever eaten in a restaurant where toddlers are allowed in the door, you have probably seen the finger eating phenomenon in full force. Something that is sorely lacking in today’s world is table manners. Now I am by no means saying you have to teach children as young as 2 which fork is for salad, which spoon is for soup and the like, BUT if a child of that age can reprogram a smartphone, they are certainly capable of using a utensil. Trust me, I know the battle it can be — we have a 2 year old son.

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Moments later Anne Sullivan starts an epic struggle with young Helen which appalled her parents. Anne summarily kicked them out of the room and proceeded to “teach” Helen to eat with a spoon and ended with her folding her napkin. However, in between there were slaps to the face and moves that no wrestler in the world wouldn’t envy. If you think it is hard to teach a 2 year old to eat properly, you should try it with a blind, deaf girl who has been allowed to do whatever she wants. Parenting is not for wimps. It takes a stiff spine and discipline for both the parent and the child. Love should be the leading factor. Love your children enough to teach them right from wrong.

We talk about wanting to make this world a better place for our children, and we should but we also need to remember to leave children who are better for this world. God knows this world needs all the goodness it can get.

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