Paradise and Parenting: Teachable Moments

I think most parents at least try to impart all the good values to their kids. Kindness, respect, honesty, these are all things that parents try to teach their offspring. But I do think that every one of us, no matter what we might say, have certain values that we emphasize more strongly than others.
For example, I have worked hard to help my children understand the challenges faced by any type of minority in our world. I bring issues to their attention that would help them understand that our modern society still has a long way to go. If they are aware, then perhaps they will work towards solutions, or at least not contribute to the problems.
So, naturally, I have been vocal in my beliefs in equality for women. I try to demonstrate the joy I take in my career choice, and how the home life/work life balance is achievable for both men and women. My husband and I consciously co-parent, make parenting decisions together, and discuss the process with our kids.
But, unfortunately, I can also be a bit hypocritical at times, and now that I have teenagers, they can see right through that. Yes, I’m a strong, independent woman who works hard. I am also deeply, irrationally, and loudly afraid of all rodents. And I still expect Gilberto to deal with any situations that involve them. Also, I expect him to deal with the situation humanely (I just saw an article of a woman who photographs mice with tiny teddy bears. I can’t live with them, but you should have seen them cuddle those bears).
Naturally, when I discovered there was a furry little creature who had taken up residence behind the oven (by turning on the oven and having it run up behind the dish rack), I began to vocally indicate that this wasn’t cool. Our two dogs joined in with their own frenzied declarations, thrilled with the idea of a good hunt. My children, wondering if one of my limbs was being severed with a pair of rusty scissors, descended the stairs to find out.
I wasn’t able to form real words, but I could continue to shriek at dog whistle pitch and point at the fridge, where the rat (THE RAT) had run to escape the cacophony of feminine hysteria and joyful canine barking.
Once my children had ascertained that there were no rusty scissors, I had all my limbs, and we had been invaded by an animal that could fit under the fridge, they began to rub their foreheads and sigh a bit (sometimes they just look exactly like their dad).
And I knew (although I was unable to change course because A RAT was UNDER MY FRIDGE) that I had done it again. I was watering down my life’s message by behaving like I needed to loosen my corset and get my fancy paper fan for the vapors I was having.
My son said, “yeah, I’m out, I’m in an online match. Call dad, he’ll take care of it when he gets home.”
But guess what. My daughter took me by my elbow and sat me on the couch, head between my knees (this is a true story). She barricaded the kitchen and calmed the dogs down. She started moving the furniture around to try to flush out the rat (THE RAT) and maybe catch it with a box trap. I watched her for a few minutes, understanding that a) she is the absolute bomb and b) I could now sit up without feeling like I was going to faint.
Incredibly, I stood up and helped her move the oven, if only to begin the load road of dignity recovery.
Gilberto finally came home and is now huddled with our daughter in the kitchen, coming up with an appropriate intervention. I’ve heard “mom” and “really not ok” being bandied about in Spanish, so I think they are going to find a way to send our extra visitor his walking papers tonight. My son and I are helping the best way we can – by staying out of the way.
And I’m feeling pretty good about the forecast for feminism in our household right now.

Photo credit: Davis Brown