Have you ever witnessed a genius moment? It’s a moment when you experience someone (other than yourself) taking an action that is so inspired and totally RIGHT for this very situation and moment, that it takes your breath away. Genius can come from anywhere and anybody. We all have it sometimes. And I believe we all see it from time to time.
I witnessed a genius moment once in the office of a middle school principal. My daughter was a student in that school. Though she was an excellent student and a “nice girl” (meaning she was not a troublemaker), she was often late to school. In fact, she had racked up so many “tardies” that she and her parents were summoned to the principal’s office to address this problem.
He started off our meeting by framing the issue and summarizing Sarah’s morning arrival statistics. He asked Sarah if she had any ideas how to resolve this. She didn’t. He looked once again at her record, which included her address, and the genius moment was born.
He said, “Say, I see you live right down at the end of Irving Street, don’t you? Well, wouldn’t you know it, on my way into school every day, I stop at the Dunkin Donuts at the other end of your street. I could come and pick you up and take you to school every morning! That would certainly get you to school on time. How about if I did that?”
I don’t know if you remember your own middle school experience, or if you know a middle school-aged child, but the last thing any middle school child needs is to be driven to school by the principal. It’s embarrassing enough to have parents you are seen with from time to time. But to arrive daily with the principal? Utter demolition of whatever tenuous social standing you might have in the middle school jungle. An unrecoverable embarrassment.
After a moment of silence, Sarah said she did not think that would be necessary and she did not think there would be a problem going forward. And by and large there wasn’t.
As her parents, we had tried everything we could think of, ranging from being understanding and trying to find out what the underlying problem was, to structural approaches such as giving her an earlier bedtime and having her set out her clothes and pack her backpack the night before, to setting up consequences. But we hadn’t come up with consequences dire enough to matter to her.
Mr. Burns just nailed it.
Where have you witnessed a genius moment? Or an inspired action? I invite you to share it in a comment.
If you are a parent actively dealing with a chronic challenge of any sort with your child, know that you are not alone. Make sure you have the support you need, whether the support of other parents, of a professional, or whatever else might be useful to you and your child. Because an ongoing challenge with a child can be very depleting for the parent, it can be extremely helpful to supplement your usual ways of keeping your own batteries charged. Get help if you need it!