As I was driving my four year-old daughter to preschool, she revealed that her two favorite insects are butterflies and tarantulas.
She explained that she loves butterflies because they are beautiful, and she loves tarantulas because “they’re the only bug that makes a good pet, too.”
We don’t own a tarantula, nor will we ever own a tarantula, but she has seen so many of them at the museums and zoos that she’s grown accustomed to their creepiness and thinks of them more like a dog or a cat than the terrifying subject of a 1955 monster movie.
The girl thinks refuses to eat chicken and hamburger because she says it’s disgusting, but she loves tarantulas.
As a teacher, my inclination was to use this as a teachable moment to introduce the word dichotomy to her. I tried to explain how her affection for butterflies and tarantulas represented represented a dichotomy in terms of her insect choices.
One is light, winged and colorful. The other is large, dark and hairy.
She was quiet for a moment and then said, “Dad, can we just listen to some music now?”
After 15 years of teaching, I’ve learned that not every teachable moment is a teachable moment.