By Elisabeth Corcoran
Another family moment within the confines of the minivan, oh minivan, sweet minivan. Sara and Jack were being their normal kinda loud, sometimes aggravating selves, carrying on their occasional kinda frustrating, kinda maddening minivan behavior. They were arguing over a book or something, you know the kind of thing where that book has sat there for probably 2 months, but because one of them was reading it, the other just had to have it right then and there. So, I was doing my typical best to tune them out with the radio, or prayer, or some type of mantra like, "I am not going crazy, I am not going to lose my mind: this too shall pass" When all of the sudden, Sara gives Jack the book and says to me, "Mommy, I want to ask you a question." 'Okay', I said, almost a little afraid. "Did you have two kids so that we would fight and leave you alone?" Before the words, "Oh, don't be silly, Mommy and Daddy had two kids because we wanted to have a family to love and take care of, blah blah blah", could come out of my mouth, I said, 'Pretty much.' And she said, "That's what I thought."
This was one of those times when seizing the teachable moment felt a little out of reach, my reserves were spent and I had nothing to give. Did I feel even the slightest bit guilty that I answered my sensitive and inquisitive daughter with sarcasm? Not really. What can I say - some days my head hits the pillow a little lighter than others, this was just not one of those days.
But there are other days when I realize after the fact that one of those sometimes illusive teachable moment has happened - and I had no idea. A while ago, my daughter was having a meltdown in public, you know the kind, where you have to physically remove the child from the store kicking and screaming? How pleasant. Well, she's yelling things at me, within earshot of several customers and clerks, and I was cringing at what I heard (but couldn't help smiling a bit too). Because she wasn't yelling things like "I hate you, Mom!", for which I was truly grateful; instead she chose to tell me the following: "I'm disappointed in you! I'm telling Daddy about this when he gets home! You're being disobedient! You need a consequence!" Wonder where she got all of that?! That little girl of mine is listening to me, and learning.
And then there was the time when we were driving down the road and there was a man holding a sign that said, "Will work for food". Well, I felt the nudge of the Spirit to buy him lunch, so I went up to McDonald's and then drove back around again to bring it to him. It was hard to be inconspicuous as I had to stop traffic, roll down the passenger side window and sort of yell to get his attention, so Sara, of course, wanted to know what I was doing. I explained it simply and that was that - we never talked about it again. Until about six months later when we were driving down that same street and passed that corner, the man was not there this time, but my 6-year-old Sara said to me, "Mommy, do you remember that time you gave that man lunch?" And I said, 'Yes, honey, I remember', almost trembling because I had no idea she had that capacity for memory. And she said softly, "Mommy, that was so generous of you." She is watching me and learning.
So by all means, grab those teachable moments when you see them. But cut yourself some slack when you just can't muster up a creative comeback, because they are watching you all of the time (and I do mean this as an encouragement!).
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