Hi, we can hear you!

Adults sitting around a table eating

Cropped image. Anthony Crider, Flickr. CC license.

I remember before our first daughter was born hearing about “teachable moments.” Those times where, out of nowhere, you have to know the right thing to say and the right way to say it with the care that doesn’t come naturally. Honestly, it scared the heck out of me.

Funny thing how time and two kids change all of that. I relish teaching moments with my daughters. Sure, they’re headstrong and have selective hearing, but when a “teachable moment” comes up, they seem respective to what dear old Dad has to say.

Recently we were at a restaurant and one of these kinds of moments came from a loud table of baby boomers. Of the five people at the table, three were caring for elderly parents. God bless them. But because they were all dealing with many of the same issues, their candor and language shouldn’t have been around any dinner table let alone one in public.

We heard about how one lady’s father wanted to end it all because he was in so much pain, and someone else’s father stood up in the living room and wet himself. All horrible stories, but please believe me when I say I’m cleaning up the language.

This was in a packed family restaurant, and I understand when you find someone in the same situation you want to commiserate with them, but there is a line that you can cross.

I could tell that my daughters heard every word by the looks on their faces. It was a mix of confusion and knowing they heard something they weren’t supposed to hear. I knew I had to say something, something quickly. But to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could come up with the right words.

So I said the first thing that came to mind, just loud enough for the table next to us to hear, “Getting old is never fun. It seems like your hearing is the first thing to go … and you forget where you are sometimes.”

I guess a “teachable moment” doesn’t always have to be about our children.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

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