Not Everything is a Teaching Moment

Our three year old daughter has a knack for falling over. She runs so fast some times that it is almost inevitable. One time, to make light of a small fall so she wouldn’t cry, I put on a big surprised face and proclaimed: “You pouffed over!” I have no idea where the verb ‘to pouffe’ came from, other than it is some messy version of a French word that isn’t coming to mind right now. It just popped into my head.

Anyway, it stuck. Now, every time she falls, she yells: “Oops! Mommy, I pouffed over!”

Cute, right?

Yes it was. Until this morning.

My mother and I decided to take her to Allan Gardens in Toronto for a walk about. She loves plants and flowers and fish ponds, so we had all in one place and thought we would get a good visit in, where she could tire herself out checking out all the various species. The park is free, albeit not in the best neighbourhood in the whole of the city, but we thought that Sunday morning would be quiet and enjoyable in the less than stellar April weather.

We hadn’t counted on the fact that the colder weather would drive a lot of people into the greenhouses – there were many homeless people occupying the benches, warming themselves. This doesn’t bother me, in and of itself.

Until the man came through the door who, at 10:30 a.m. in the morning, was clearly drunk. Very drunk.

My daughter had been examining a lily by the pathway when he came in the main door, putting himself between myself and her. He was staggering down the path, in her direction so I ran over just in time to see him tip over.

I mean that literally.

He was standing one minute and the next minute, he was on his side. I have to admit that I was undecided about what to do. What if he wasn’t drunk after all? What if he was ill or having a heart attack? If he was drunk, what the hell was I going to do about it? I was just deciding to go and check on him, all the while pulling Nikki out of the way, when she, who had been watching him the whole time, exclaimed at the top of her lungs: “Mommy! The man pouffed over!”

I stopped dead in my tracks.

The man got up in to a sitting position and was laughing like crazy. Well, he wasn’t having a heart attack.

My Mom, who was by now herding Nikki out of the way and towards the door, asked me: “What are you going to tell her?”

I thought about it, as we walked back to the car.

“Nothing. She was right. He pouffed over. Let’s leave it at that. She’s 3. Not everything needs to be a teaching moment.”

She nodded, though whether in agreement or resignation, I will likely never know.

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