To Not Teach a Lesson

At the start of January, it was really, really slushy here in Portland, Oregon.

We had 8 inches of snow and then some freezing rain. Then it got a little warmer.

We got slush. Lots of slush.

What follows is what I diaried that day (refined by my editor, Jennifer):

We had school today for the first time in a week. Emmett donned sneakers like usual. I asked, “Don’t you want to wear boots?” He assured me, “No, I’ll be fine.” We went outside. At the corner I had to be careful that the puddle on the corner didn’t go over the top of my boots. I said, “Let’s go back. We’ll get you your boots.” “No, no, I’ll be fine. I’m good.” One block later my feet in boots were beginning to feel cold. “Last chance, Buddy. Let’s go back so you can change out of your sneakers.” “No, Dad, I am fine, I’ll stay in at recess.” Half a block later, “Dad?” He looked up at me. “Can you go back and get me my boots?”

I wanted to teach my boy a lesson that he should have listened to me. That he should have trusted me. That he needs to rely on the wisdom I’ve worked hard to acquire.

And then something I know in my core flashed through my head: the best learning isn’t done by being taught lessons. The best lessons are learned, not taught.

I asked him and his sister to continue to school carefully, and I trudged back to pick up his boots.

Later that night, he thanked me. I recounted to him what had gone through my head. He thanked me again.

By keeping myself from teaching him, I’m helping him learn what love is.