Teachable Moments

My family only seems to know two volumes—loud and louder. The problem stems from the fact that the kids don’t listen or simply don’t react to anything the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Or the 16th time if they’re watching TV.

“CJ, time for dinner.”

His eyes remained fixed on the TV.

“CJ, I said, time for dinner.”

Again, no response. Annoyed, I jumped directly in front of the TV.

He cocked his head ever so slightly then continued to watch.

“Are you alive? Can you hear me?”

“There’s a naked lady outside.”

Wait, that only works on me.

“The ice cream man is here.”

“No, he’s not.”

This kid was made of stone. There was no breaking him.

“Get in here now or I’m throwing your toys straight into the garbage!” Diane screamed.

The walls shook. The dog covered her ears. Car alarms went off.

CJ started crying then stomped to the dinner table.

“Why didn’t you just turn off the TV?” Diane looked at me with bewilderment.

I couldn’t answer. I was in awe of how quickly she resolved the situation. Additionally, my eardrums were still throbbing from the scream as I stumbled to the dinner table.

Despite the scream that made CJ bawl and broke the sound barrier, five minutes later CJ hugged and kissed my wife as if nothing happened.

“I love you, Mommy.”

Who the hell was this woman?

Amazingly, though, her yelling worked. Unfortunately, the yelling ever ends. It’s become so engrained in our everyday life that a simple conversation is now a shouting contest.

“Pass the salt!” Lexy said as my eardrums almost burst.

“I’m sitting next to you. Why are you screaming?”

“I don’t know, Daddy.”

“Don’t scream at your father,” my wife screamed.

That answers that question.

Unfortunately, the kids are also loud at the most inopportune moments.

“That man has a booger hanging from his nose.”

“She has a big butt.”

“Is that man a midget?”

I think we all need to go back to kindergarten for one day and learn to use our “inside” voices again.

A perfect opportunity came up the other night when my son sleepwalked and mistakenly peed in the garbage pail in our bedroom. It would have been a great, as they say, teachable moment.

Yelling would only exacerbate the situation and result in pee all over the room.

We could even bring in a kindergarten teacher to help.

“Now, CJ, put on your thinking cap and pee directly in the pail,” she’d say, bespectacled, and speaking in a nurturing tone.

“Watch out for Daddy’s iPhone. That’s a good boy!”

We could then slowly integrate our inside voices to everyday conversation and begin speaking and acting like normal people.

“Daddy, here’s your iPhone,” Lexy would say in a quiet, dulcet tone.

“Why does my iPhone smell like pee?” I’d scream.

Maybe inside voices are overrated after all.

Copyright © 2011, Brad Manzo

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