“My five minutes of experience now qualifies me to teach.”

October 23, 2013

Notable Stats

Mastery Delusional Rate (MDR) – The illusion a small taste of education gives to a child making them believe they are now expert level after one lesson.

Little Knowledge Danger Quotient (LKDQ) – The exponential increase in safety risk caused by your teaching your child how to be safe.

Kids are like sponges. This is true. For better or worse, they will absorb what you are saying and doing and make it their own, until they reach the age when they may want to do the exact opposite. But I digress.

Our son loves to escalate situations. On one hand, I can envision his drive to excellence, by pushing the envelope, testing theories, and taking everything to the next level. On the other hand, he can turn a leisurely stroll to the park into an Olympic event that includes explosives, handcuffs, and citations. How he does it, takes some sort of talent.

It is normal for a parent to feel like you have to issue warnings to your children. Quick lessons that stick in their heads in hopes that one day, when you are not around, your little mini-me will sit on their shoulder making them think twice about putting that shoe in the blender.

But I have come to find out that “don’t” means “do” and, ironically enough, “do” means “do.” So everything that comes out of your mouth is an endorsement. I suppose they cannot complain that we don’t support their dreams.

It is also apparent that our son will take whatever we plant in his head and make it his own. It is a deviant form of plagiarism that seems to take over his body at times. If we teach him something for his own safety, he will take it to a level that will not only increase the danger of the activity, but insure that he, or one of his sisters, will get hurt or end up crying. What started out as “how to buckle your seatbelt” turned into “how to turn a seat belt into a neck tourniquet.” It takes a gift of sorts to make a cotton ball a deadly weapon.

Recently, we took the training wheels off of his bike.  His skills told us he was ready, his safety wisdom told us he may need another 25 years. But you have to start somewhere. After three safe laps around in a circle and a couple a crashes into the bushes, he declared himself ready for the Tour d’ France. Then after one more lap, he was ready for the X-Games.

He proceeded to finish off one lap with one hand and one leg off of the bike which led him into the trees on the side of the driveway. Then, his interesting attempt to look backwards as his squeezed the horn on his bike, led him to turn the bike over onto himself. Good for him that he just sees these moments as temporary setbacks, that if he keeps practicing with one hand and one leg off of the bike, he will master it. Probably so, that is, after he comes out of the hospital.

So we are careful with our safety instructions. Careful not to be too clear about what will happen when you try to stand up on the seat of your bike with one eye closed going over an uneven sidewalk. We try to be careful not squash his spirit when explaining that it is not recommended that he spin around multiple times when standing on the top step of the staircase while putting on a pair of shorts. We want him to explore and feel the world, and maybe even feel the pain if he can bounce back and learn from it.

But the balance between explaining life lessons, walking the walk, and just letting your kids learn the hard way is one of the biggest challenges in parenting, especially when you have a child that tends to take every experience and inject steroids into it.

- Doug Glanville

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