Have you ever been faced with a powerful challenge, or had to make a difficult decision, and, in the stress you experienced, you found it difficult to do much of anything? Well, in concert with the notion that our kids are watching our every move (even the not-so-good ones), here’s a very teachable object lesson involving something we all are quite familiar with: the housefly.
At first glance, the common housefly falls way short on talent and creativity. It can’t sing a song, dance the polka, or recite poetry.
But just try catching one. This little critter comes with an early warning system that all but assures it will see another day … another garbage can. Near 360 degree vision and unbelievable quickness make a sneak attack on a fly virtually impossible.
But a fly has one problem: It can respond to danger coming from only one direction at a time. To catch a fly, simply jam its radar. Come in on it with both hands from two sides. Folks that study this sort of thing say the fly will remain frozen in place because it can’t “compute” an escape. One more candidate for Fly Heaven.
I shared this little tidbit once with a group of elementary students. On my next visit to the school, I asked if any of them tried the fly thing. One bright-eyed fifth-grader shared that he told his father about it.
“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” was the dad’s reply. About that time a fly landed on the television. The boy, using the new technique, captured the fly and handed it to his father, still wriggling.
Of course, there’s a deeper meaning operating here: Human beings aren’t flies. They can take in information from a number of sources, consider their options, and determine how, when and where they will respond.
So, the next time you have a difficult decision to make, try not to let it bug you. Do your best and work it out; don’t freeze.
You’re not a fly.
A semi-retired child and adolescent psychologist and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the author of The Changing Behavior Book: A Fresh Approach to the Difficult Child. His website is http://www.DocSpeak.com; his blog is http://www.itsaboutthem.wordpress.com.