“Don’t Shove Me”

I had an experience once that taught me something as a grandfather. It was the night of the June Dance Festival at the University of Utah football stadium, and my daughter’s two oldest children were giving her a “bad time,” as she called it. So I said, “How would you like it if I took your two boys up to the stadium to the dance festival?” She said, “Oh, Daddy, if you’d do that, I’d be so happy.”

I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I took those two boys; one of them was five and the other nearly seven. I didn’t know there was so much difference between a seven-year-old and a five-year-old. The older boy was entranced by that spectacle down on the football field. But that five-year-old, his attention span was pretty short. He’d squirm, and then he’d want to go get a hot dog and he’d want to get a drink and he’d want to go to the toilet, and he was just on the move all the time.

And here I was sitting up front with the General Authorities, and they were smiling at this little show going on as I tried to pull my grandson here and there to make him behave. Finally that little five-year-old turned on me and, with his little doubled-up fist, he smacked me on the side of the face and he said, “Grandfather, don’t shove me!”

And you know, that hurt. In the twilight I thought I could see my brethren chuckling a bit as they saw this going on, and my first impulse was to take him and give him a good spanking. That’s what he deserved. But I’d seen his little mother do something. I’d seen her when he was having a temper tantrum. She had a saying, “You have to love your children when they’re the least lovable.”

So I thought I’d try that out. I had failed in the other process. I took him in my arms and I said to him, “My boy, Grandfather loves you. I so much want you to grow up to be a fine big boy. I just want you to know that I love you.” And his angry little body began to unlimber, and he threw his arms around my neck and he kissed my cheek and he loved me. I had conquered him by love.

President Harold B. Lee (Sunday School Conference address, October 5, 1973)