Monday, April 7, 2008

Seriously...What's ONE Jacob worth???

The kids and I were driving to nursery school on a rainy fall day, when we stopped at a red light. The car behind us, unfortunately, did not. Our minivan shuddered with the impact, and, after catching my breath, I immediately turned around to make sure that my then 4 year old twins, Jacob and Sophie, were ok. Both looked stunned but reported that they were unharmed, and so I stepped out of the van to check for damage, which included a banged-up rear bumper and that was about it. The other driver apologized profusely, gave me her insurance information, and the kids and I kept heading towards school.

Now, if a car accident isn’t a teachable moment, I don’t know what is, so I took advantage of it.

“Is everyone ok?” I asked again.

“Yes, Mommy,” they replied.

Then Jacob asked, “Mommy, is the car ok?”

“Well,” I continued, “the car did get a little banged up, but the most important thing is that we didn’t get banged up!”

“How come?” asked Sophie.

“Think of it this way, Sophie. Which would be easier to replace – our car or our Sophie and Jacob?”

“We-ell,” Sophie philosophized, “we do know a lot of Jacobs. There’s Jacob Bernstein, and Jacob Schachter and Jacob Pomper…”

Not quite the lesson I was looking to teach, but it was a logical answer.

Here's what I realized in this exchange with Sophie that has changed that way that I communicate with clients, friends and family.

  • Don't try to teach lessons leading with emotional examples for fundamentally logic-driven people.
  • When you need to be very direct and clear with your message (i.e. "our physical safety is more important than our property."), don't make someone guess it.

And perhaps most importantly...

  • Don't overestimate personal loyalties (especially in -- but not exclusively among -- 4 year old twins!)


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