A Missed Opportunity

The inspiration for creating this children’s book came from old Chinese texts (Di Zi Gui) and the teachings of Master Chin Kung, a monk of Pure Land Buddhism. Venerable Wuling illustrates for the reader an understanding that filial piety for parents and respect for teachers and others serve as the foundation of Buddhist learning and practice. Herewith is a selected story from the available book length:


When we were babies, our parents gave up doing many of the things they enjoyed doing. Instead of going to bed when they wanted to and sleeping through the night, they got up every few hours to take care of us. Instead of going out to dinner with friends, they stayed home with us. Long vacations, leisurely weekends, doing what they wanted whenever they wished — all were put on hold.

Even as we became older, they would put aside their own activities to take care of us. When we got sick, they would stay home to care for us. When they had to make a choice on how to spend their money, they thought of us first…

Our parents did their best for us, so we owe them a lot. The best way to thank them is to try to make them happy by doing what they have taught us to do. For example, when they call us, we should answer them right away. They may want to show us the neighbor’s new puppy or teach us how to bake chocolate chip cookies. Or it could be an emergency and they may need us to do something urgent right away.

When our parents tell us to do something, we need to do it the first time they ask us. If Mom tells us to put away our toys or to turn off the computer, we need to do it right away. Or when Dad tells us to take out the trash or to feed the dog, we need to do that promptly also. And while we are doing what they ask, we shouldn’t argue with them or grumble to ourselves.

What about when our parents scold us?

We need to remember that they really are doing it for our own good. It would be much less stressful for them if we did things properly and without having to be corrected. But they do correct us because they want us to be good children and responsible adults. Also, they want us to set good habits, knowing that good habits will build our character and help us to be more happy and self-confident.

So when our parents scold us, we shouldn’t become upset. Instead, we should remember that they are scolding us to help us. We should listen respectfully to what they tell us. Taking their advice to heart, we should tell them that we will try to do better the next time.

As for why we should answer and come when our parents call us, let’s see how Felicia and Hanna learned why this is so important in . . .

A Missed Opportunity

Ever since they last visited Gram, their grandmother, Felicia and Hanna had been pleading with their mother to teach them to make chocolate chip cookies. It was a “secret family recipe” and Gram always baked them because she knew how much her two granddaughters loved them.

Gram had taught their mother, Mrs. Johansson, how to bake the cookies. But Mrs. Johansson had been very busy with work so there hadn’t been any time for baking lessons for her daughters.

Fortunately, the project at work was now completed and Mrs. Johansson decided that she would teach her daughters this Saturday, just like that day when her own mother taught her. Wanting to surprise them, she bought the chocolate chips and other special ingredients, and put everything away where they wouldn’t see them.

On Saturday afternoon, she called to the girls, “Felicia and Hanna, come to the kitchen!” Hanna, who was younger, came quickly, but Felicia was busy texting her friends and called out  “In a minute, Mom!”

Hanna’s eyes grew big as she learned that today was “the day.” Excited, she helped her mother get out all the ingredients and cooking utensils. Her mother showed her how to carefully measure the ingredients and then mix everything together. Mrs. Johansson called out again, “Felicia, please come to the kitchen!”

Felicia gave a distracted “Coming!” and continued texting.

Remembering her favorite part of helping her own mother, Mrs. Johansson told Hanna she could lick the spoon after the cookies were mixed. They opened the bag of imported chocolate chips, but Felicia still hadn’t come to the kitchen.

Mrs. Johansson smiled as she and Hanna sampled a few of the chips “to be sure they are good.” Then they ate a few more because “They are good!” Once again, Mrs. Johansson called out “Felicia!” But she couldn’t even hear Felicia’s mumbled reply.

Mrs. Johansson turned on the oven. She and Hanna spooned the cookie dough onto the baking pans and put the first one in the oven. While the cookies were baking, Mrs. Johansson got out the cups and saucers she used on special occasions. Then she and Hanna made some hot chocolate and dropped a marshmallow into each cup.

As they were sipping the hot chocolate, the aroma of the baking cookies began to fill the kitchen. Hanna listened as her mother told her about how she had helped Gram bake cookies. Hanna loved hearing stories about her grandmother and mother because her mother was always so happy when she told them.

She told Hanna, “When you are grownup, you too will remember this very special day.”

Then Mr. Johansson came in. “Wow, it’s chocolate day! I could smell your cookies out in the yard. Are they ready yet? I’m always hungry for your mother’s chocolate chip cookies.” As he pulled out a chair at the table, Mrs. Johansson poured him a cup of steaming hot chocolate and then took out the first tray of cookies. As the three were sitting at the table eating the warm, gooey cookies and drinking their hot chocolate, Felicia came in.

“I’m sorry Felicia, but I called you several times.”

Seeing the cookies, Felicia realized that she had missed something she had been looking forward to for weeks. Reaching for a cookie and the hot chocolate her mother poured for her, Felicia said, “Next time you call, I promise I’ll come right away!”

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