Teachable Moments

It’s not lost on me that I just don’t update as much as I did when the girls were younger.  I could say time and commitments are the reason – and probably build a good case. But the reality is when my first post about bra shopping (more than seven years ago) this blog was about my day-to-day as  an only parent of two girls. While that hasn’t changed, my scope has.  We’ve changed from dad and two girls to a dad and two teens.  I do less parenting and spend more time looking for teachable moments.

To be clear, I’m still a parent.  I still get to say, “no.”  But I’m far more effective when I’m able to use a moment to convey a lesson.  It was just last week I realized I’ve come to embrace those teachable moments.

This all crystalized when 17.0 (I can’t believe that either) went to take her road test last week.  I just got a new car, and I had the temporary registration taped to the inside of the windshield.  Honestly, I had never looked at it.  I was just waiting for the regular registration to show up in the mail as it would in the course of business.

However, the road test day showed up before the regular registration – and it turns out the temp was not printed well and arguable the expiration date for the registration on my car was illegible.  Arguable because I was able to read it and the woman at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office was able to read it – but the tester claimed he could not.

I could see the disappointment in 17.0’s face when the tester said he could not get in the car and take her for her road test due to the registration.  We headed for the nearest DMV office, waited on a relatively short line and got the sticker.  On the way back to the testing area, 17.0 asked me why I didn’t argue with the tester more.


It’s time for 17.0 to understand that there are times it futile to argue with people who aren’t her father – there was no way I was changing the tester’s mind, so I went for solving the problem.

Both girls are traveling with international destinations this summer.  A couple of years ago when the girls were in camp there was a trip to Canada and it turns out their American Express debit cards did not work internationally.

And she passed her road test, wave if you see her drive by you.

This year, both girls are out in the world with credit cards.


Now I’m trying to explain the importance of credit ratings to both girls, and get them to understand they’ll get a bill eventually.

We’ll see how that goes I suppose.

So instead of semi-pithy realities of being an only parent – I’ll try to document those teachable moments now – and a bit about how those lessons are received.

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The Ruse of the Do-Over

Action and ReactionThink back to the days when you were younger playing ball in the street.  A car came or the ball hit a branch over-hanging the street sometimes after an argument you did a do-over.  Nothing happened, and you get to replay the moment.  Later in life though comes the realization, the do-over is a ruse.

Adult reality is more aligned with Sir Isaac Newton’s law of physics: for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.  And there is no do-over.


Mistakes happen.  People are emotional creatures which helps cement the randomness of actions and reactions.  Then there are the consequences.

Out in the street there was the ruse of the do-over.  Yes, you can replay that moment.

Later in life, actions and re-actions come complete with consequences.  And there in lies the rub of life.  Stand there, and realize Newton was right.  Actions spur equal and opposite re-actions and when emotions are added predictability is gone.

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Life Without the Eraser

Giant EraserWhen we were younger and played baseball in the street most disputes were settled with a do-over.  Do the whole play again.  Kind of like an eraser for the moment.  Little did I know back then I’d go through life without the eraser we used in the street.


I think we can all think back to moments we’d like to re-do.  A comment made, a situation that could be handled better, a decision we’d like to re-think.  But life doesn’t work that way.  We can learn and adapt, but we can’t go back and hit a button that re-does a moment.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to college a study a little more for a test, or spend an extra hour in the library researching that paper.  Hopefully those moments left an impression, an experience, that we can reach back to when we need to make a different decision going forward.

Life doesn’t work that way though.

We have to live in the moment and hope we can make the right call at the right time.  As age and responsibility add to our lives, the pressure on the decisions gets higher-and the margin for error becomes less.  We can only hope the moments that call for decisions are handled well, in our life without the eraser.

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