Monday, June 11, 2007

Drive-by judgements or Teachable moment?

Perhaps I'm too sensitive, but I am beginning to really hate comments containing the phrase "since I do x my child never does y," as if all children are essentially the same and if you'd just teach them manners dammit, ducks would not be falling into carts and kids would not be flitting in and out of jail. Okay, I admit I was sucked into reading these comments with the whole duck saga from motherhoodunsendored and all the hilarious spin-offs from that.

I know - they aren't judging , just stating that facts of their own child and life. Sorry man, if someone proudly insists they never let their child have sugar in response to an offer of cake (rather than a no thank you, she's allergic, or any innocuous responses which would still result in her not eating the cake) it's a bit of an underhanded sanctimommy coming out of the woodwork. As far as Kristen missing a "teachable moment," which some of the commenter's implied, I for one do not believe three-year-olds are ready for this kind of learning. I'm working on my son not having a conniption over the fact that his brother peed before him, not that "stealing is wrong." But perhaps he's just not very bright.

I remember a friend of mine getting extra fabric or something and she was with her daughter. Normally she would have walked away, but dammit if she didn't have to wonder what kind of example she was setting. She pondered whether her daughter was old enough to understand, not whether it was okay to keep a bit of extra fabric.

So after I started this post, what occurred yesterday? Yes, a real life time-sucking "teachable moment?" My 4 1/2 year old walked out of the pet store with a tennis ball. This is after 2 or 3 whine fests over bat cars and gumballs. I had let the two boys pick out cheap soft toys for our neglected dogs, and told him that a tennis ball would get all icky as our dog is a bit obsessive about chewing them endlessly. And as we're walking out (totally late for our realtor meeting which I had just found out about), he joked he had the ball in his pocket. And then I felt the pocket. Stealing and lying. Sheesh! The thing was 99cents but darnit, with all those comments rolling around in my brain I had to go back in. I blathered on about how it was wrong, and did he understand, yada yada yada.

What I decided was we'd return the ball he didn't really want anyway for the tennis ball, as long as he learned his lesson. So I tried to get the manager's attention while keeping track of my younger son. He caught on immediately, and said "yes, he can have the ball and return the other toy" in a very sweet way. To which my younger son responded "ask the man if I can have one of these," pointing to an ice cream bar. Ugh. So I told my little thief not only did he 1) steal, 2) lie, but 3) make me have to deal with a crying brother and 4) be late for our appointment. I was too whipped to tell if it sunk in. Next time this happens, I'm going to take a page out of Her Bad Mother's book instead.

Cross posted at Silicon Valley Moms Blog.


  1. I'm with you, mama! I love how we think we can attribute every one of our children's positive traits to something we did and the negative ones we can write off as being in their blood.

    And by "we" I mean not you and me.

  2. BirdieRoarkJune 15, 2007

    I don't know... I'm having a hard time stretching here to see the correlation from Kristen not seeing the duck and you not taking it seriously when your kid intentionally walked out with something. I totally can relate to being late, having a ton on your plate, and not wanting to take the time. However, I think this is one of those times that you have to stop and do the right thing. Not saying that is has to be a "teachable moment" (god, I hate that term) - just saying that you can still show how his actions have consquences. Not sure if that happened here or if your humor writing just glossed over it.

  3. Just for the record, I did take that seriously - may not have handled it perfectly, but for sure I don't think it's the same as the duck thing.