Once Opie killed a nesting robin with a stone from his slingshot. Andy asked the boy how the little ones in the nest were going to survive with no mother to feed them. Father and son agreed that since Opie had taken the life of the adult bird, he would have to feed them. Opie kept them in a cage and fed them until they were ready to fledge. Later, fully grown now, the young birds fly away as Opie lets the cage door swing open wide.
The series went on year after year. Opie like all young boys made mistakes as he grew up. But he always recognized that his father was wiser than he was. Andy, on his part, never gives in to a zero tolerance policy. How can a child learn a lesson if we don’t allow for mistakes?
I once mentioned to my father that a friend of mind was thinking about becoming a carpenter but he was afraid of making mistakes. My father answered quickly: “Why if I were afraid of making a mistake. I could never have become a carpenter. Everyone makes mistakes. You just have to learn from them.”
The part Andy Griffith played in his series reminds me that there was once a standard for learning that was nearly sacred to parents. It wasn’t inflexible rules, nor was it tolerance for misbehavior. The golden rule of parenting was use common sense. Andy applied common sense with such skill that those of us who watched each week felt confident that life itself ought to be the greatest teacher of all.