Teachable Moments Can Happen Anywhere

Judge Judy was on both TVs.

For the second time in a week, the kids and I were subjected to the muted melodrama of courtroom television. We would never watch by choice. For some reason, however, this was the second restaurant to have it showing.

My oldest, after finishing her food, decided she wanted to play court. She would be the judge.

“Who wants to be the person who is bad?” she asked.

“Whoa,” I said. “There is no person who is bad. Not yet anyway. There is a plaintiff and a defendant.”

“Who wants to be the defendant?”

The first round, I was the plaintiff, bringing a charge against one of my sons that they had eaten some of my ice cream. He denied it.

The judge ruled (probably fairly) that I had eaten my own ice cream.

For the second round, my oldest again asked, “Who wants to be the bad person?”

“No,” I said. “The court is for determining if someone has been bad or not. We can’t just determine automatically who is good and who is bad.”

“Right, right. Who wants to be the plaintiff?”

This time my youngest son brought an accusation. He accused me of mugging him on a bridge and stealing his money and his pants. I pointed out that he still had his pants. He changed his story to say that I had taken his pants off, stolen the money, then put his pants back on before running off into the night.

Despite some questionable testimony, I was convicted. So I lost both as the plaintiff and the defendant. Not a great night in court for me.

I relay this story as a reminder that teachable moments happen anytime and anywhere, and they can be triggered by something as dumb as a Judge Judy marathon.

My daughter got a crash course in the presumption of guilt, justice, and some of the vocabulary of a courtroom. She may remember it. She may not.

Either way, we all had fun.

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