Friday, August 20, 2010

Teachable Moments

Last night before bedtime I was approached by my son, Cabu. With energy he asked. "Are we going to the museum tomorrow?"

My kids have a steel trap memory for fun things that are in the future. If you say something "might happen sometime soon" (which is a very reasonable non-committal brush off from a parent), you'll be reminded of such event certainly happening from sun up to sun down. You will be pestered with the "when", "is it time yet" and "how soon" until your will breaks upon the rocks of the kids dreams.

My response "Not soon. We aren't. Why are you asking?"

I was sure that at this point neither of us slipped with an offer of the museum in the future. Becky & I are getting very good at not discussing anything fun in front of the kids. Beyond fun, we won't discuss anything that might cause an exciting thought until we are certain it will happen (a movie tonight); then we get to leverage it as a possibility and build the anticipation so that they think the simplest things (watching "Wipeout") are events worthy of keeping a clean room for a week.

Cabu's very astute response, "I want to show them my collection of feathers and teeth so they can see that they are from dinosaurs, and keep them in the museum."

Somehow our house has become a storage house of collectibles. Not for the parents stuff. Oh-no. The kids have various stuffed animals, oddball toys, stickers and each has a box of small stuff. Not just general stuff but special stuff. Odd rocks, feathers, strings, etc. Each item is of immense value; it just hasn't been discovered or understood yet. Cabu has some "dino" feathers and a rock or two that he thinks are dinosaur teeth. While I love the ambition, I'm sure the odd shaped nugget from the driveway is just a broken rock and not related to a t-rex in any way.

Knowing how fragile situation this is, I picked up Cabu & set him on my lap. I needed someway to diffuse this. We aren't running all this down to any museum. I don't want to squash his energy, but we need someway to stop the chatter about going to the museum. Not just delay but something to let him know the museum isn't going to look at your feathers & teeth.

"Cabu, have you ever lost something you thought you really needed. Like, you lose your favorite car somewhere. And play time just isn't as fun without the red car to lead the others. So you look, and look, and look. Eventually you find what you have been looking for stuck behind the dresser. And you push and pull and try hard so that nothing stops you from getting that car. You fight to get it and once you have it you won't lose it again."

"Well this feather here looks pretty important. It looks like a flight feather that leads all the other feathers. And for a feather this large it must have been a large dinosaur. Huge."

"These teeth are probably the small grinder teeth in back but the dinosaur has fangs. Pointy fangs the size of your arm. While I'm sure a museum would like to have them; it'd be dangerous to take them outside where a dinosaur flying high above would see them and swoop down and take them. 'Cause you know that dinosaur is looking. Looking for his teeth and feathers and I don't think he'll stop. So keep these in your room, and have a good night. Sleep tight my boy."

Cabu cried. He cried a bunch actually; and didn't seem to want to go to bed after that. He seemed upset about not going to the museum, but I can't be sure. I think he learned a lot from this lesson though.


  1. Ummm, so now I will know what he's talking about when he's staring at the sky looking for the dinosaur who lost his favorite feathers.

  2. Editor's note:
    I was asked about the museum & told him his stuff wasn't dino stuff and it ended there. I just thought it would have been funny as a "Jack Handy" type of story.