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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A teachable moment

Today started out with a shot in the rump. As you may or may not know, I am undergoing fertility treatments in an effort to become pregnant. In addition to several other unpleasantries, I get to give myself ( ok, Brian actually does it) a shot in the stomach each night and on the final day I get one in rump muscle. This final one always hurts, alot. I wake up as usual, try to get my bearings, think, "what day is it today?" and remember, oh yeah, it's shot day. Not my favorite way to start off a morning. That done, I went to the coin star machine in the supermarket to trade in a tupperware container full of coins. With Austin in the wagon, waiting to help put in the coins, I pick up the container and drop it. Right there in the store. I hear groans behind me as other shoppers watch in horror as hundreds of coins fall and scatter on the ground. Austin simply says, "Mama dropped monies.". I realized 2 things. The first was that no one was going to help me pick up these coins. There were many people watching me to be sure, one even stepping around me, but I was alone on this one. And the second was that Austin was watching me and learning. How I responded to this situation would be an example to him on how to deal with mishap and frustration. Would I utter a few low pitched swear words, would I grumble about how no one is nice enough to help, would I complain and belittle myself for being such a klutz? This is a teachable moment, seize it. Sitting on a dirty supermarket floor scooping up coins may not be how I wanted to spend my morning, but this is where I find myself so I might as well make the most of it. "Yes Austin, Mama did drop them. I'll just have to pick them up and then you can help me push the buttons on the machine.". A few minutes later, we were happily watching the machine gobble up the coins. Our days are full of these "teachable" moments. Because they are always watching. Always absorbing and learning. How he responds when his trains fall off the track or the puzzle piece won't fit has a lot to do with how I respond in the check out line or to the driver that just cut me off. Do I offer to help when someone needs it? Do I remember to say thank you, and mean it? To be a mom is to be under a magnifying glass all the time. I'd like to say I am a shining example of morality, justice and love. But the truth is, I'm still learning myself. Still learning to keep those all powerful emotions in check, to put others needs before my own, to make gratitude my starting point. And to admit when I've blown it and say I'm sorry. Failure is a teachable moment too, a very important one. As much as I want to teach Austin to do the right thing, he also needs to know how to make it right when he didn't. We want kids to learn by what we say, and they do, but they learn far more by watching what we do. We don't like that, the constant spotlight, the need to be better people than we really are. It's as if our conscience has moved outside of us and is inhabiting this little person. Pinnocio had Jiminy cricket, I have Austin. They say having kids makes you a better person. I don't know if it does, but it makes you WANT to be a better person. Because after all, they're watching.

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