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Friday, December 30, 2011

Smarts Aren't Just About the ABCs

I spend the majority of my day playing with and catering to my kids. We do spelling games, sound games, and rhyming games. We draw, trace and identify letters and numbers. We talk a lot. They used their first adverb the other day. They know synonyms and homonyms. (Not by the names, just by definition.) They're constantly asking questions and internalizing the answers. They amaze me every day.

So why is it that in an emergency situation, they would have no idea what to do?

Parent fail, that's why.

I didn't even realize I hadn't imparted this pertinent information until a few days ago. My husband was playing with them with a toy phone that came with their kitchen. They were gleefully calling the police and taking him to jail. But they didn't know the number. Then my husband said, "oh! I'm hurt! Call an ambulance."

And the game stopped.

The girls just stared at him, like, what?

They knew about doctors and well visits and bandages, since they've had experience with all of those things. But, thankfully, they've never witnessed a true emergency. And since it never crosses my mind, I never taught them about it.

And in one night, the girls went from clueless to knowing exactly what to do. And they never had to leave the premise of the game.

"Call nine-one-one!" My husband said, missing just a beat. And the girls sprung into action.

"Wait!" they shouted. "Where is it? Where are the numbers?"

My husband showed them.

Within minutes, they had taken control again. "Call 9-1-1!" one of them shouted, and the other would dial the correct numbers. We told them what to say. "Hello, there's an emergency. Please come quickly."

And now they know. The girls went from playing to prepared, and they didn't even know the difference.

Now, will they really be able to call 9-1-1 in an emergency? Probably not. They'll probably try to use their toy phone. But it's a start.

When you teach your kids, you can't forget the basics. I'm guilty of that often. Luckily, my husband has my back.


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