By Peri Kraus, an MWF parent and board member
I never really understood the idea of a teachable moment. I mean, aren’t they all teachable moments? Every moment of the day that I’m with my kids, they are figuring something out. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s, well, not so good. Like right now, as I’m writing, I look up to find my son, scissors in hand, eyeing the dog, the scissors inching closer and closer to the dog’s hair. So, I remind him that his scissors are not for cutting the dog’s hair and proceed to give him a piece of paper instead. Teachable moment right there, right? Well, maybe...
Like most moms, I try to teach my kids the importance of showing kindness toward others, be it through their action or their words. Although at times I do falter, I try to watch the way I speak and behave so as to act as their guide. When I make a mistake, I acknowledge it and promise to try harder to make better decisions. The big thing right now is the word “stupid”. I never realized how much people fling this word about until I had kids!
The other day at the park, there was a dad hanging out with his kids and their dog. The dog was so cute. He was playing fetch, running in circles around everyone. He was so happy-go-lucky. My kids were loving it. Eventually, the dad decided to come over to the swings where his and my own children were playing. Of course, he brought the dog with him, and of course, the dog was still excited. The dad started berating the dog, calling it all sorts of names, including “stupid”. My stomach turned. My heart dropped. How could this man, a father, with kids, standing nearby no less, behave like this? How dare he, after all the time I’ve put into teaching my kids and trying to set a good example for them?! Should I say something, so that my kids know that his behavior is unacceptable, or should I leave it be. Maybe my kids won’t notice?!
I watch my kids. My mind is racing. What do I do? What do I do? My daughter’s eyes are wide. She’s stopped swinging at this point and is just staring at this dad. He leaves. She hops off the swing and comes closer to me.
“Mommy, that man called his dog the “s” word,” she says.
“Hmm, I heard. What did you think about that?” I ask with baited breath.
“He didn’t sound very kind. He should have shown more kindness and respect for his doggy by using better words. It made him look not very smart.”
Insert sigh here. By not getting involved, I allowed my daughter to use everything I had armed her with for this exact type of situation. Teachable moment, indeed...for both of us.