Monday, April 13, 2009

Teaching Moments

There is an infamous story in my family about when my Dad gave my brother THE TALK. We were living in Georgia, the month was May, the year was when my brother was 12- conditions were perfect for my Dad to give my brother the big talk. I'm sure my Dad had prepared a well-researched, age appropriate talk with properly timed analogies and pauses- allowing for the inevitable questions that such a sublime talk would illict. Thus my Dad proceeds to give his oldest son the talk on a sunny, southern (read:humid) May afternoon upstairs in the boy's bedroom- where of course he feels comfortable- part of the genius of the well-planned talk. After my Dad finishes his speech he lovingly and knowingly asks, "Now son, do you have any questions?"- being fully prepared for any follow-up inquires about such a sensitive matter. My brother says, "Yea." Now I wasn't there, but I can imagine- because I am a parent myself now and I know my Dad pretty well, that my Dad sat up a little straighter thinking that his primed arrow had reached its target because the boy now has a question. My brother then says, "When can we turn on the air conditioning?" Again I wasn't there, but if I was and I had super-sonic hearing, I think I would have heard a little "pwoooo" as the air went out of my Dad's ego.
I tell this story because I had a similar experience yesterday with Annie. I didn't give her THE talk and my teaching moment wasn't so well-planned. Rather it was quite spontaneous- but that only added to the pleasure I originally took in it because all the "experts" say you should turn regular, everyday moments into teaching moments. So the equation for this situation was suppose to look like this:
Everyday occurance + imparting my pearls' of wisdom on my children = the fabulous mother that I am.
We were driving home from Easter dinner at my aunt's house when at a stop sign an older lady approached my window. I could tell she was trying to ask me something so I rolled down my window. With a thick accent she asked in broken English if the road was 39th South. I said yes and she continued to ask something else but I couldn't understand her. She sensed this and finally said, "You give me ride?" I asked where she needed a ride to and she said "39th and Highland." I told her yes and she climbed in the front seat. From our limited conversation I got that she had called her daughter several times but was unable to reach her and she had waited and waited for the bus which never came. I told her it was probably because of the Easter holiday- although this was mostly likely lost on her because I'm pretty sure she had no idea what Easter was. After we dropped her off at her destination, my kids had all kinds of questions: "Who was she?", "What was her name?", "Why couldn't we understand her when she talked?", "Why didn't her daughter pick her up?", "What's her daughter's name?", "Why did you pick up a stranger when you tell us not to talk to strangers?" This last question caused a big discussion about why it was okay for me to pick her up. I talked about things like the fact that I am an adult and she was an old woman who mostly likely wouldn't hurt me. Plus she also seemed like she really needed help. Now I know that all these things could have been a ruse and she could have really hurt me if she wanted to, but I felt fine about helping her and never had any sense of danger. I decided to turn this discussion into a gospel-centered one. So I said, "I also have one thing that can help me in dangerous situations. Do you know what that is?"
Annie answers, "Pepper spray?"
Although a smart item to carry with me, this was not the answer I was looking for.
"No, the Holy Ghost." And from there I launch into a mini-impromptu sermon about how the Holy Ghost can give you a feel of peace about a decision or it can warn you if there is danger. And of course in my Grandma Sarah style, I throw in a "how grateful I am for this blessing." At the conclusion of my little oration I have the inevitable pregnant pause- where I am waiting for the follow-up gospel-centered questions to pour forth from my children. Things like "How else has the Holy Ghost helped you?", "What does it feel like when the Holy Ghost speaks to you?", "Can the Holy Ghost help us?" Unfortunately all I got was, "Mom, can you drive faster? I really have to go to the bathroom!"
"Pwoooooo." Did anyone else hear that?

10 comments:

Thelissa said...

First, very well written. Second, what a kind soul our are to have given her a ride. Third, your kids crack me up! I love that Annie knows what pepper spray is!

Finn said...

Just to add to the veracity of your story; when Dad delivered his "coming of age" speech, it was in his office, and yes, there was an audible sound after I asked my sincere question. You have to admit though, it sure has been fun to ask him every year since then if we can turn on the air conditioning with a wide grin.

SevenVillageIdiarts said...

You know how people say that phrase. . ."Wait for it . . " That's what you have to do. The questions will come. You'll realize, "I DID teach them something." Of course, they'll come when you ask something like, "Now, does anyone have to go to the bathroom before we leave?"

Julie said...

Oh my gosh...I am so laughing out loud!! That just made my day.

Kelly with the Jello Belly said...

I am with Julie. Ha ha! Are you sure that sound wasn't Finn passing gas?

kjirsten said...

I LOVE your stories!!! It makes me miss you so much! I can't get enough of your "real mom" experiences . . . Oh, how I can relate! I LOVE IT!! You're last post was SOOO cute too! Made me laugh!

mama missy said...

Parenthood... and the fun goes on!
(I'm with Thelissa, very well written.)

Natalie said...

Nothing like your kids to serve you up a big ol helping of humble pie.
I sure do love em.

Lori said...

You should write a book! You can turn an ordinary story into a great adventure! What a talent you have. It is also fun to read about the adventures of your children!

Chelsea Pratt said...

I can't relate to this in so many ways....especially the humid South:) I have the exact same feelings with similar experiences of giving our kids "the talk." Thanks so much for the laugh. Let's get together in July for lunch! I'll be up there for the 4th.