Sunday, February 13, 2011;
I moved to Washington after a relationship with a very high-maintenance woman who hated my beat-up old car.
Some months later, during a major springtime storm, part of the plastic "roof" of my aged and somewhat decrepit Geo Tracker convertible developed a small tear over the driver's side. It was a tiny rip, but apparently it was enough.
I was dating a new woman by then, and we came from different parts of the spectrum. I am a soldier and have no politics. She was, in her own words, the "typical tree-hugging granola-crunching liberal" and worked on Capitol Hill. She had never met a soldier. I had never met a woman like her. She didn't even mind my old car. We both changed each other a little.
One day, as we were clambering into the car, I looked down and saw something to make me smile. I turned to her and said, "See, sweetheart? You finally made me ... green. Heck, even my car is green now."
There, tucked in nearly under the driver's seat and growing out of a tear in the carpet (a soldier's car can sometimes develop a fairly heavy degree of dirt off our boots), was a small oak tree. About three inches tall already, the seed had obviously come in through the springtime storm gap in my roof and been nurtured by the episodic soakings of Washington storms. She loved it.
I married her.
Robert Bateman, Afghanistan
Tell us about a time when a child taught you an important lesson.
If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.