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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

When Our Children Teach Us

I really dread opening my email sometimes. We get a ton of well-intentioned messages that contain cute pictures and admonishments to send it on to five people in order to receive a blessing, or ten people if we really want to have our socks knocked off. Some of them are funny or inspiring, but they tend to be in the minority. Most of the time I delete them for the sheer rebuke of the superstitious content.

We also get quite a few emails warning us of dangerous trends in society, some as they pertain to the Christian faith. We’ve been warned to not retrieve a piece of paper from our car’s back window after entering it from a parking lot (a carjacker’s ploy for commandeering our vehicle), that Johns Hopkins has reversed its research on the role of chemotherapy and radiation in the treatment of cancer (in favor of a stricter diet and exercise), not to accept the new dollar coin (In God We Trust has been removed), and that schools in the UK (or the University of Kentucky, it depends on the email) have removed teaching about the holocaust from their curriculum.

All of these are urban myths as researched by, but they nonetheless find themselves sprouting legs and running rampantly through the universe of email boxes. I’ve used them to teach our children to not only question the validity of such things, but how to find out whether they’re true or not. As Christians we need not be involved in cyber-gossip. It doesn’t exactly do much for furthering our cause.

So why did I one day forget my own lesson? I guess sometimes I’m just as willing to believe what I want, especially if I’m to benefit from it. That, and I plead moments of temporary insanity.

As I waited for the printer to print off an email on how the cell phone can be used in marvelous ways during times of emergency, I let out an excited, “This is fantastic!” My daughter (why is it always her?), passing by on her way upstairs, said, “What’s fantastic?”

I shared my newfound treasure trove of cell phone features I had just learned about from an email. She stopped and looked at me.

“Mom, what did Snopes say about it?”

Darn it. I hate it when my own teachings come back to haunt me. She was right, of course. Visiting Snopes revealed that only one out of the five features espoused in the email had any validity. All the rest were bogus.

But what isn’t bogus is the impact my teaching has on our children. When I think they’re not listening, they are. When I wonder whether they’re getting it at all, they do. If I’m wondering if I’m making an impact, I am. I should never think other people or sources of learning have more of an impact than I do.

I just shouldn’t be surprised when it comes back to bite me, though. It always does.

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