I’ve been hearing a lot about teachable moments lately. My friends who are mothers (frothers) are always making profound statements like, Every moment is a valuable opportunity to teach an important lesson, and then I witness them say things like, Spencer, why do you think that huge truck driving down our street has such enormous wheels? All the while I’m thinking, Maybe you and Spencer should get out of the road before you get run over.
Frankly, I think these teachable moments are overrated. I understand that I should be quizzing Tall throughout the day (“If we’ve already run three errands, and we have three left, what is that in fractions?”), but I’m mostly preoccupied that I’m almost out of time (and by the way, why isn’t the phrase “walking errands” or even “driving errands” instead of “running errands”? I feel enough pressure without the implied message to hurry up). Tall dutifully replies “99%, Mommy” and I am confident that he's inherited my exceptional math abilities.
I decide I need to be more open to the concept, and therefore, effective immediately I start in on a Teachable Moment Extravaganza (“Teach. Mom. Extra.” for short). When my younger son purposely trips the older one, who retaliates by kicking him in the foot, I say to both, “What did we learn from this experience?” They halt the kicking, and move right along to hitting and punching. (Who said “Teach. Mom. Extra.” would be easy?)
Later, I call them into the living room to teach them yet another crucial lesson. “Look, boys,” I begin, pointing to the TV, “I forgot to program TiVo to tape my show. Guess what happened?”
“It-didn’t-tape-Top-Chef-again,” they say together in a weary monotone.
“What should I have done instead?” I prompt.
“Taped it,” says Tall.
“Right. I mean, uh, how exactly?” I say, pretending to test his knowledge.
He walks over, takes the remote control out of my hand, and quickly keys in a couple codes, barely masking his exasperation. “There ya’ go, Mom,” he says, handing back the remote, “and try to remember what I did for next time.”
See? Our days are full of teachable moments.
(“Moments Of Value”)