When children become teachers

Children are great teachers, aren’t they? I mean, they are when we actually notice.

I find we often miss the lessons they teach us by the sheer fact that these things usually happen at the most inopportune times. Like when we’re in the car battling traffic to make it to the rink on time and one of them decides to educate me with an enlightening story about some complicated social thing he witnessed at school. Too bad I’m trying to avoid an accident and can’t hear all of his words way at the back of the van…

Then there’s the times when we had an extra full day and everyone is exhausted but no one more than me and I’m about to tuck her in and kiss her goodnight and she suddenly remembers this thing she must tell me and could I just sit for a minute…

But the irony isn’t lost on me; they do teach us, maybe more than we teach them. We just have to be more aware of these moments, and cherish them for what they are.

Case in point: during a spectacular meltdown of epic proportions on the weekend, my 8yo had me at my wits end. Nothing I said or did could stop her antics, so I chose to do nothing, instead. I figured she’ll tire herself out eventually, or, more aptly, burn off the excess energy/anger or whatever toxic emotion she was feeling, at the rink, and things will resume as per normal. So when her dad returned the boy from his practice, he took her to her rink and gave me a moment of peace.

(In the interest of foreclosure, my 10yo then decided to give me grief about homework right after his sister left. Instead of being able to calm down and regroup, I had a second issue to deal with. I only mention this to acknowledge my own state of mind, which by the time he was done complaining, was nowhere near repaired, or regrouped. Frankly, I was exhausted. It’s only in hindsight that I give myself a break for not being able to notice the efforts my daughter initiated later on to ‘make nice’.)

Back to the lessons the children teach us: my daughter has this incredible ability to express her love to everyone and everything in every conceivable, creative way. She makes things. She crafts things. She designs things. She builds things. She cuts and pastes and glues and glitters cards, and posters, and notes to the point of….excess. I love that about her even though sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of detritus her creativity leaves behind.

But she shows us her love in many ways, especially after a day of crying and arguing. Here’s what she made when she returned from the rink:


She used those plastic beads that you place together and then iron to make them stick to each other. When she gave it to me, it was a token of not just her love for me, but her ‘possibly subconscious’ acknowledgement that maybe her behaviour earlier wasn’t particularly, um…appropriate. I mean, I realize we all get into these moments of blind anger and frustration, but the fact that she expresses herself creatively, I find this amazing.

She taught me then, with that token, that her moment of anger was a fleeting one no longer applicable, and that it was not a persistent, prevalent emotion to rule her day.

I wish I could be like that, sometimes. I find adults in general, and me in particular, are more preoccupied with holding on to resentment or irritation, for longer than necessary. I look at my happily humming child sitting on the floor, cutting and pasting little squares onto her bristol board for her project. This is the same child who just a few hours ago was a  tantrum-throwing pile of misery. It’s like she flicked a switch.

I’m constantly reminded of this, and similar examples, when I drink from the coffee mug she made me at a local craft store.


The lesson then, for me, is this: allow the emotion to pass, and get back to your ‘normal’ state of mind.

Or something. 🙂

2 thoughts on “When children become teachers

  1. We have the BEST conversations in the car. Or, well, what could be the best conversations if I weren’t trying to avoid getting us killed. The other day it was about why jails are run by “Corrections Canada”, and what rehabilitation means, and who Ashley Smith was and how she died (tricky stuff to discuss with a 5 & 6 year old, but it keeps coming up since we came across a protest on Parliament Hill looking for justice for Ashley – if I’d known that 3 days later I’d *also* be trying to explain why there was a gunman running across the same spot maybe I would have saved Ashley Smith for another day). Anyhow – we were three exits past swimming lessons before I realized we’d missed it.


    1. That is so funny….makes me remember the one time we had a conversation too, and I ended up driving to the rink instead of the pool for swim lessons. LOL.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! 🙂


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