Friend to Friend:

Grandmother’s Lesson

by Elder Theodore M. Burton

Assistant to the Council of the Twelve

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    Elder Theodore M. Burton

    When I was five years old, my mother took me to Grandmother’s house to stay overnight. My grandmother lived on a farm, and it was always very exciting for me to play outside. But this time Grandmother warned me, “Be careful of that red hen with baby chickens. Don’t get too close or she might think you want to hurt her chicks.”

    “I won’t, Grandma,” I promised. “I’ll be very careful.”

    But when I saw the mother hen and yellow chicks, I forgot my promise. They looked so soft and fuzzy that I bent down and reached over to touch one of them. The tiny chick peeped and quickly ran away from me. Then the mother hen flew at me and pecked me on the hand until I ran into the house crying to my grandmother.

    Grandmother held me close until I stopped crying. When I was able to talk, she asked me what had happened.

    “I just wanted to see if the little chick was as soft as it looked,” I told her. “I wasn’t going to hurt it—I just wanted to touch it. Then that old mother hen pecked me!”

    “But how was the mama hen to know you weren’t going to hurt her little baby chicks?” Grandmother asked. “You are much bigger than she is, and she didn’t want anyone to hurt her little chickens. That is why she pecked you—to make you go away.”

    Then she told me to go out and play in the yard again, but to stay away from the mother hen with her babies. She also gave me another warning, “Now don’t go too close to that mother goose either. She has some babies too, and she is bigger than the mother hen. If you try to touch one of her babies, she might really hurt you.”

    “I won’t touch them, Grandmother,” I promised.

    When I went back outside, I stayed away from the mother hen. But I soon saw the mother goose and her train of baby geese following behind. I couldn’t see them very well, so I went closer to take a better look.

    When I was close enough to see, the mother goose spread her big wings, stretched out her long neck, opened her beak, and hissed at me. I was so frightened that I ran back into the house and told Grandmother what had happened.

    “Parents love their children,” Grandmother said, “and they want to protect them. That is what the mother hen and the mother goose were doing.”

    Then my grandmother taught me a valuable lesson. “Not only do your father and mother and family love and want to protect you,” she said, “but our Heavenly Father loves you. He has placed a prophet here on earth to watch over us. This prophet has many assistants, such as the stake presidency, the bishopric, the home teachers, and your teachers in Primary and Sunday School. Many people love you and will protect you, so you never need to be afraid.”

    I remember my grandmother’s lesson whenever I hear children sing “I Am a Child of God” or “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.”

    This is a lesson all of us should remember, for we are His children and He loves each one of us!

    Illustrated by Jerry Harston