Sari and Macie were playing a game (Hungry Hippos, I think) and they started to fight about it. Amanda stepped in and told Sari that she needed to teach Macie how to play so she wouldn’t get frustrated. At this point in the intervention, Sari was exasperated and she exclaimed to her mother: “I don’t want to teach Macie! I don’t want to be a teacher!!”
I was a silent witness to these events from another room. I called to Sari and asked her to visit me, which she reluctantly did, assuming, rightly so, that she would be in trouble for her outburst and unwillingness to cooperate with her sister and mother.
I had a cup of coffee in my hand and I set it down on a table. I asked Sari to watch what I was doing for a second. I reached down to the coffee cup, grabbed it by its handle, brought it to my mouth, took a slow and deliberate sip, then proceeded to set it back down on the table. I asked her what I had just done. She replied, “You drank some of your coffee.” I pressed her further, “How did I drink my coffee?”
I continued: “I grabbed it by the handle, right? Why? [pause] Because a coffee cup holds hot coffee and it’s probably not a good idea to hold it by the cup when it is really hot, right? Did I hold it by the lip/rim of the cup? Why? [pause] Because I could drop it like that, right?”
I think Sari was beginning to catch on…
“Did I gulp the coffee fast or sip it slowly? Why? [pause] Because coffee is hot and it could hurt my mouth if I drank it fast, so I drink it slow, right?”
Dad: “Did I just teach you how to drink coffee?” Sari nods. “Did I have to say anything to you or did you just watch me?” Sari: “I just watched.” Dad: “Can you teach Macie stuff by playing games the right way and showing her how it’s done?” Sari grins. “Maybe you can teach Macie about how to act appropriately and not throw fits by you acting appropriately and not throwing fits. Can you do that?” Sari: “Yes, Daddy.”
Dad: “Now go teach your sister stuff…”
I like coffee. Amanda and I drink it every morning. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that short little lesson about what we do and who we are is on display to everyone all the time. We are always teaching, aren’t we? We are constantly teaching our kids, our siblings, our spouses, our coworkers, our employees, our friends, our customers, even strangers, and we don’t even know it. What are you teaching people today?
Go ahead, have another cup of coffee…