Five Lessons from Downtown Rochester’s Construction

By Meghan Zeile

As a teacher, I am always seeking ‘teachable moments’ for my son. I love using examples from our every day life to teach him a new concept or idea. It is so much easier to teach him patience and teamwork when he can witness it for himself or even participate. He can grasp the concept of ‘enormous’ when he can see an enormous machine digging our new road. My son is no  exception. Every child learns better when experiencing the lesson first hand. The road construction of downtown Rochester is full of these teachable moments for children and for us adults as well. It’s great practice for many applicable life lessons. We just have to stop complaining long enough to notice them.

Meghan's young son takes in the construction from inside the Rochester Bike Shop

What’s the word?

The most basic of concepts I can teach my son from the construction is new vocabulary. He is naturally interested in construction equipment, so this has been easy for me. We discuss the different types of equipment and their size, shape, color, and job. Seeing these machines in real life has exposed him to the reality of these giant excavators.

He more fully understands that they can be dangerous and that he actually is not capable of operating one at this moment in time. We have discussed all sorts of safety concepts as well and the different gear that each worker wears to protect him or herself. This has been very good language enrichment for my son. You can point out and describe many different things going on in town that your child would not likely notice on his or her own. Then try using these new words throughout your day to help your child remember the concept.

Patience is a virtue, right?

The next lesson is patience. Oh my, this is so hard for me! I hate waiting in line to turn and everything takes so long! I despise being stuck behind someone who doesn’t really know the detour very well and is holding us up. However, there are few things we have to wait for in life anymore and I’m out of practice of waiting patiently. I can set a good example for my son by not complaining or making my “Uggghhh!” sound while driving through town. It’s so much more important to teach patience and exercise my patience muscles than it is for me to get somewhere 12 seconds sooner. When my son is in the backseat saying, “Go Mom!” I can explain to him that I’m waiting my turn. Then later on, when he wants to take a toy from his friend, I can remind him that he has to wait his turn now, just like I did earlier at the traffic light. However, this works so much better if I actually did wait patiently. We cannot expect things of our children that we ourselves are not willing to do.

This too shall pass
Another lesson is that sometimes things get worse before they get better. Before we know it, we’ll all be walking and driving through town and the slow moving traffic and dust will hardly be remembered. We’ll be enjoying our newly renovated town so much that we’ll say, “It was totally worth it!” Life is like that. While we’re in the midst of a trial or bad time, we focus solely on the pain, irritation or inconvenience of the moment and miss out on simple joys.

Remember being a teenager? Ouch! Puberty, fights with parents/friends/teachers, rebelling, dating… It’s scary just thinking about it! It seemed every little thing mattered and life would always feel so crazy but life moved on and improved. No longer was the need to argue with everyone, relationships became easier, life made more sense. It’s the same with the construction. While we’re in the midst of it, it really stinks but soon it will be done and life will move on. Stay focused on the outcome and final goal in mind. Our town will not always be under construction.

The road less traveled

Probably my favorite lesson I can teach my son is that life can sometimes take you on a different route than you have planned. There can be unexpected joys when we are on life’s detours. Yes, it would be easier to drive straight down Main Street, but I never would have driven by the firehouse. Every time we drive by and the garage doors are open, revealing the fire engines, my son shouts, “It’s my lucky day, Mom!”

It’s hilarious and the first time he said it I laughed so hard I almost cried. I would have missed this if I had gone my normal route this whole time. I’ve discovered many new fun stores that I can’t wait to check out. Just because the route is different doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just different. Life is often inconvenient and our attitude will color our experience. If I have a bad attitude during the detour and traffic then I’ll miss simple things and new experiences. What better lesson to teach our children than the fact that life is crazy and you can get sucked into the negativity or you can bring sunshine wherever you go and enjoy life and make it better for others.

We’re all in this together

My last lesson is the lesson of teamwork. My son is learning to work with others and that includes listening when others speak, sharing toys and being helpful. It’s so great for him to see the dump truck patiently waiting for the excavator to fill it up and then drive away. I’ll point out the fact that the dump truck driver isn’t screaming at the excavator operator to hurry up.

It’s good for him to see the construction worker hosing off the concrete mixer’s chute at the end of the workday. I explain to him that it’s okay if something gets messy but it’s always important to clean it up so that it works the way it should. The workers collaborating show him that it’s important to hear out opinions and ideas and have a plan for implementing these ideas. My son is naturally argumentative so I highlight the fact that no one is interrupting or being rude.

We, as a community, are part of that teamwork as well. We have to make more of an effort to shop and eat downtown right now. This is our town! This is our beloved Rochester and if the residents are complaining and avoiding town just because it’s a little harder right now, how then can we expect anyone else to come to town? Yes, it can be frustrating but it will be over before we know it. We live here because we love it! Show your love and support your favorite spots downtown.

So much of how we act is passed onto future generations. As adults, we have a huge influence on the younger crowd. It often feels as if they aren’t listening or even aware, but believe me, they are. Don’t miss opportunities to teach valuable lessons to your children. Show them that life takes flexibility and a positive attitude. Children won’t just pick up on these lessons without your help though. It takes purposeful thoughts, questions and comments to encourage their thoughts down the right path. Look for ideas in addition to mine on what life lessons you can pass on. Make the most of the construction downtown and use it to encourage and teach. If we’re grumpy and scowling because of the noise, dirt or traffic then what are we saying to our children?

Make sure you’re sending the right message.

About Tom and Ann Gendich

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