Wednesday, August 26, 2009

teachable moment

So, I've realized that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the outdoors. Recently, a close relative who shall remain nameless was at our house playing with the kids. L and J were full of stories about our recent "camping trip."

"We played in the woods and catched bugs!" She gushed.

Relative: "Oh, that must be why you have so many bug bites. Do they itch? Do they hurt?"

L had to think about that one. "Yeah." she concurred. It's not as if this fact hadn't occurred to her prior to this moment, but it wasn't where she had been going with her story.

Relative: "Did you get a lot more bug bites? You were outside for such a long time. I bet you got a lot of bug bites."

L: "Yeah, I did."

Relative: "That must not have been very much fun. There sure are a lot of bugs who like to bite people."

L: Slightly puzzled, "Why?"

Relative: "That's just what they do, honey. They just land on you and bite your skin and drink your blood. Maybe that's why you got sick, maybe something bit you and made you sick?"

(Gasp!) Another teachable moment. This time, it's not the kids whose tolerance of bugs I want to impact. But this was definitely a "choose your battles" moment. Some people, this particular relative especially, are completely convinced of certain things, hold certain opinions (bugs = bad) and aren't much interested in discussing it. Might even be offended that I'd try.

Seconds passed while I thought about this. Wisely, I refrained from speaking. How could I best counter her negative comments about bugs? How could I undo the negative frame Relative had just put on the experience of catching bugs, of being outside? Should I try to tell This Relative some of the many great things about bugs, perhaps remind her how much the kids enjoyed being outside? I knew I couldn't challenge her belief about bugs--I know for a fact she won't budge. But how could I gently redirect the course of conversation? I sat there, contemplating my next move.

L: "No, I just had a virus. The doctor said. And catching bugs is FUN!" she gushed, leaping off the chair to go play.

'Atta girl!

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