A lesson I never taught.
Once upon a time there was a mother of four children. She was probably post-partum at this point in the story (she was post-partum for a good 6 years or so), but that doesn’t diminish the depth of her love for her four monkeys.
One day, early on a cold January morning, the three older monkeys were getting ready for school. These monkeys attended Montessori school, where individuality and self-motivation were applauded and encouraged. The 3 monkeys were getting dressed, as was Mama. It was a toss up to see who could be dressed first: monkeys or Mama (refer to the earlier note about post-partum).
When two of the three school age monkeys came down, Mama noticed the 3-and-a-half year old monkey was missing and went in search of him. She found him in his room, carefully putting out his clothes for the day: a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. When she pointed out it was a cold January morning and that perhaps another clothing choice would be better, Monkey dug in his heels and insisted that he needed to wear shorts. Mama began to insist that he should wear winter clothes, and Monkey began to insist louder that shorts were the perfect clothing for the day. When Mama began to point out that the day was quite cold and that perhaps he wouldn’t be permitted on the playground, he replied more loudly and emphatically that he *would* go to the playground because he would wear his winter coat.
It had been (probably, who can recall now) a long night for Mama what with the whole post-partum thing (and no doubt the all-night-long nursing of Monkey #4 that went with that), and so it occurred to her to give up: let him wear whatever he was going to wear. It wouldn’t kill him.
As she dropped him off at school in the car line, Mama mentioned to Monkey’s teacher that she, Mama, had no interest in fighting about clothing that morning and so would Teacher please allow Monkey to go on the playground — even if the temps were sub-arctic — so that he could learn a lesson without having the lesson shoved down his throat. Teacher agreed because of the whole Montessori-we-support-autonomy-independence-and-learning-from-bad-decisions-that-don’t-kill-you thing, and everyone went off to have their January day.
When Mama picked Monkey up from school at noon, Monkey hopped in the car. Mama said, “Hey Monk, how was school today? Did you go out on the playground?” and when he said, “Yep,” she commented on how cold he must have felt, seeing as he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
“Yeah, it was cold,” Monkey replied. “Especially because I didn’t wear any underwear today.”
And they all lived happily ever after, never making another weather-related bad clothing choice, and always listening to Mama. (Well, the first part is true.)