Croskey’s Corner: Ready! Fire! Aim!
The other morning, I woke up to the clock radio alarm. As I finished shaving, I noticed the light on my shaver flashing, signifying that it needed a recharge. I heard the coffee maker beep, signifying the coffee was ready. I walked downstairs with my cell phone vibrating in my pocket, indicating that I had a text message waiting. I poured my cup of coffee. I sat down to read the text message and my laptop “dinged,” denoting that I had just received an e-mail. As I put down the cell phone (without actually retrieving the text), I opened my e-mail. But out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the kitchen faucet blinking. That meant that the water filter was about worn out and it was time to replace it. I opened the refrigerator door and the filter on the ice maker was burning red instead of green. Time to replace THAT filter. Completely forgetting about the text and the e-mails, I went to the garage to find the replacement filters. As I walked by the dryer, I heard it “buzz.” The clothes were dry. (That’s not as handy as the dryers in college dorms, which are programmed to send students an e-mail when their clothes are dry!) The house phone rang. It was a Xavier University automatic call letting me know that the power was out on campus. Ding! More e-mails. Beep, the microwave was done warming my coffee, which had gotten cold while I was looking for the filters. Vibration, letting me know a text had just come through! I stuck everything in the closet and went back to bed. But the snooze alarm went off 45 seconds after I pulled up the covers.
You can see that I may be wired, but some of my wires are crossed. I use technology, but sometimes I let it abuse me. It reminds me of my favorite robot. No, not R2D2; it’s Robby, from the sci-fi movie, Forbidden Planet, a remake of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Robby went on to have a long entertainment industry career, and co-starred in the 1960’s TV show, Lost In Space. He was good friends with the young boy in the family. When there was an imminent threat, Robby would announce, “Danger, Will Robinson!!” Well, our lives are full of technological warnings. “Danger, Modern Human Being!!” You have mail; you are needed; you must fix something. Henry David Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Good luck getting away from “it” all in the woods of today, Hank!
The Character Quality, Alertness, is perceived as a great one for students. Parents and teachers would be thrilled if students went through the year being Alert. When given directions or information, Alert students would remember and respond. But let’s look even deeper at being Alert to dangers. Wouldn’t it be great if they were aware of what was dangerous around them and had the right responses? Part of this is recognizing and heeding warning signals. In technological devices and modern innovations, the warning signals are evident, programmed in, and usually obvious to most. (Though I have been known to hear a cell phone ring and ask, with genuine curiosity, “Is that my phone?”) But how will kids know what warning signals to heed, that is, what to look for, in life situations? How can they pack 20 years of experience into just a few years of living? Even though we know they learn best by doing, we are afraid that if they learn about danger through doing they will get hurt or die in the process. Or, to put it in reality-based terms, we want them to know a stove feels hot, but not get a serious burn from the lesson.
I often say in this space that I think we mostly know what to do and are fumbling around for the courage to do it. With inexperienced kids, though, they may truly NOT know what to do. And research on kids’ brains tells us that they are impulsive, not just because they are kids, but because their brains’ inhibition or impulse control center is still maturing. So, maybe we can do them the most good by focusing on teaching them the Signals.
Here are some Signal suggestions:
If you wouldn’t want your parents to read about this in the local paper, maybe it’s dangerous.
If you’d stop your best friend from doing this, be your own best friend; stop yourself!
Is there something fun but safe you could do instead of doing this?
If your parents would tell you not to do this, use that: Tell your friends your old-fashioned parents would kill you.
Would skateboarding, or a roller coaster, or river rafting be just as fun but not so embarrassing if you are caught?
Ask yourself: If I don’t do this, will I always regret it? Or, if I do this, could I get hurt and always regret it?
Being a kid is not Ready? Aim! Fire! It’s Ready? Fire!…Aim…Help kids learn the signals that will help them stay on target for living.