Saturday, December 27, 2014
The Teachable Moment
Sometimes you can expect it because of the situation you are about to encounter - it's inherent in the environment.
Other times it takes you completely by surprise. Such was the case today.
I took my youngest to Best Buy to get a new router. Mine was starting to give up the ghost. We were leaving to head to another store in the mini-mall and we had to go down a short hallway that merges with the bigger, main one. In front of us was a petite person. We were maybe 15 feet away when she announces quite loudly, 'THERE YOU ARE! HOW ARE YOU??!!!!'
We turn to look behind us. There is no one there. We were the focus. Thing is, we had NO idea who this person was!
She is what I would term - mentally young/challenged or having a mental disability. With everything being PC these days, I'm not too sure how to label her. The one thing that is clear no matter the label - she was a person, she was being friendly, if exuberant, and she was extremely happy to see us.
My youngest looked at me like a panicked deer. What do we do?
What we did was to continue walking up to her. Her with her multi-colored knitted cap, bicycle helmet perched on top of it, her back pack all puffed out, in her puffy blue coat and her knitted gloves. She held out her hand to shake and I did. Same with my youngest - he followed my lead. She asked for my name. I gave it. She smiled. She turned to my son and asked the same. He gave his name and she said ,"WHOOPS!" and giggled. "I forgot about my earbuds!" She popped one out and she smiled widely and asked my son his name again, which he provided, again. She smiled another big grin and I wished her a Merry Christmas, since it's still the season, at which she smiled again. Then she announced in her delighted, upbeat way, 'I'm going to Gamestop! They have lots of wonderful games there!', and did a complete about face and jauntily walked away at a quick pace.
My son was quite perplexed by the whole thing. Freaked might be a more accurate word. I explained that she had special needs and she still was due respect and cordiality - even if it was not the normal interaction between strangers. People like her don't think too hard about the meanness in life - they're full of joy. I am never quite sure how they manage to be happier than most but they often come across that way.
My son thought about it for a bit and said "She has a rainbow mind". I liked that. I really did. I love my kids and when they come up with beautiful wisdom and insights, they teach me as much as I try to teach them. Truly a teachable moment.