Not too long ago, my husband, Marc, and I took a defensive driving class to save some money on our auto insurance. We were dreading going, because we thought it would be long, tedious and boring. Fortunately, the class was taught by a wonderful and lively man who made the class interesting, and the time just seemed to fly by, mostly because he used driving examples that had broader life implications. For example, he asked the class if anyone has a child, niece, or nephew who is about to learn how to drive. Numerous hands rose up in response.
“Can I teach them how to drive?” he asked.
The class started shaking their heads affirmatively, and calling out “YES!”
“You are WRONG!” he bellowed. “I can’t teach them ANYTHING! You want to know why? Because they already KNOW how to drive! You have ALREADY taught them how to drive. They have been learning by watching YOU, every day, since the day they were born.”
The class looked confused. He expected that response, so he continued. “You think I can teach YOUR child to stop at the yellow light, instead of speeding up? NO, I can’t, because every time you sped up YOU taught them it was OK to do it.”
He was on a roll, so he didn’t stop his questions there. “Has anyone ever texted while driving?” The silence proved that they did. “So, you think, your kid, who has been watching you text and drive is going to LISTEN to ME when I tell him not to? He already knows it is OK to do, since YOU do it with HIM in the CAR!”
Marc and I think of this story often, because it makes so much sense. After all, we as people learn by example.
The other day, we had a glimmer of spring. We were able to open our windows for the first time in months. The house was quiet, except for the gentle sounds of the ocean and the breeze until we heard the screaming. A lot of screaming… The featured word was the “F” bomb.
Marc and I went to the window where the commotion was coming from. We watched two fathers, one on a bicycle with his young son strapped in the back, and the other in a car, with his young kid in the back in a car seat. They were screaming, yelling, cursing, and waving fists at each other. Apparently the altercation started because the dad on the bike thought the father in the car was driving too fast.
Fortunately, the dad in the car was the bigger man, because he ended the incident by simply getting back into his car and driving away. With the way that the bike dad was carrying on, I am sure that wasn’t easy for him to do. Throughout this whole drama, all Marc and I could think about was our driving instructor, as we asked each other, “What are those dads teaching their kids?”