Friday, January 30, 2015

"I'll talk you through it, Mom."

I find writing and reflecting quite intriguing. Typically, there is so much swirling in my mind, I struggle to find the time or the right words to get it all out in a way that makes sense. When I do, it is very satisfying and rewarding. For instance, I have been working on a blog post for about a week now, but in its current state, it is fairly jumbled and overwhelming. I woke up this morning to another school cancellation, and so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to pull it all together. Instead, I sat and stared blankly, finally giving up and walking away.

But, inspiration hit me much later in the day, which has put me at the keyboard, typing feverishly in order to pull my thoughts together. Believe or not, playing a video game with my son did the trick.

I will confess, I am not a gamer. I like to play the mind teasers or puzzle games. I teach my boys the board games I grew up with. I’ll play solitaire, 2048, or Two Dots on my iPhone, and an occasional Tetris game, since that is what I grew up playing, but I typically don’t play our WiiU console much. Every once in a while, I will play Wii bowling or tennis against my husband or boys, but that is really the extent of my “gaming” experience.

So, bundled up in the house, the boys decided to set up the WiiU and play some video games. My oldest, Alex, asked if anyone wanted to play NBA basketball with him. No takers. I’ve never played ANY basketball video game in my life. But today, I thought I’d give it a try. “Sure, I’ll play,” I said. Alex looked at me a bit baffled. “Really? You don’t know how to play it, do you, Mom?” I told him, “You can teach me.” His face lit up, and he went into action. It was truly fun to watch.

Alex proceeded to tell me all about the game of basketball. He started with what you do on offense, and then defense. He could tell by my face that I understood this part. But then, his tone changed as he began to show me the controller and what every button would do. He could tell I was overwhelmed, and so he told me, “I’ll talk you through it, Mom.” He knew how to make me feel better.

As we played the first quarter of basketball together, with each play, Alex told me which buttons to push, congratulated me for making shots, and went slowly on the game. I was picking it up rather quickly with his guidance, and so he stopped talking about the buttons, and the game became quite competitive. What fun we had! Two competitive spirits, cheering for each other, talking “trash” to one another, and smiling the entire time. When the game finished, we both cheered. He won fair and square, even though I think he played it easy on me! And by the way, Alex is 8 years old.

After we played the game, my mind was racing, not because of the actual game, but of the lesson we all need to take back to school with us. Our kids inspire us and teach us so much!

We were taught in a time where the adults taught the kids everything they knew. I remember thinking, “I will teach my kids everything I know, just like my parents did.” And we do! But that is not ALL our kids need to know, and our kids will learn with or without us. Even more than that, our kids can teach us a thing or two. In teaching us, they are kind and helpful, not judgmental that we don’t know the answer or how to do something.

Kids need to feel empowered to teach adults, show adults how to do something that the adult doesn’t know how to do. Often time, teachers feel as though they need to be the expert in the classroom. To the contrary, teachers need to empower the students to be the experts, allowing our adult vulnerability to show. We model for our students that we are always learning too, and we can learn from anyone, no matter what age.

My children teach me so much, and they can do amazing things. While it may be “just” a video game today, or “just” a Minecraft creation tomorrow, they teach themselves and each other how to do so much more than I ever could. In our schools, we must embrace our children’s excitement to learn, empowering them to share their unique skills and know-how, not just the “box” our standards fit neatly in. Giving our students this opportunity to teach us something we might not know is a thrill for both involved.

photo credit: <a href="">AMERICANVIRUS</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


  1. I loved this! It's great that your son knew when to keep going and when you were catching on and he didn't need to push anymore. He made a great progression through the necessary skills until you were proficient enough to use what you had learned. What a great teacher! :) By the way, for the sake of all of us that read your posts, keep writing and reflecting ... even if it is painful at times! I promise, it gets easier!

    1. Thanks, Matt! I appreciate your kind words & constant inspiration!

  2. Quite an inspiring story about your humility and his leadership. So many lessons to take from this. Thank you for sharing!!

    The next question now is: What team or strategy did you use to challenge your son? :D (Or is it a secret?)

    1. Thanks for reading Daniel! No big secret - I think my son learned how to talk me through it all because his dad and I have modeled it with him in so many instances, coaching him through difficult tasks. Smart kiddo picked up on our techniques!