At that moment, there was nowhere else on the entire planet that I wanted to be and nothing more important than sitting on that dirty-disgusting bathroom floor.
When she shared that her dad was in the room with us at that very moment I couldn’t believe my ears. Her photo, her story, the moment became so much more powerful than it already was. The fact that she was able to retrieve such an old photograph was amazing. It must have been at least twenty years old. How could she possibly have that so readily at her disposal?
Let me backtrack a little bit to give some context. I got a little bit ahead of myself. To be quite honest, I wanted to pique your interest without giving away too much. But you’ve read this far, so I guess it’s time you know.
Oftentimes, when I present on blogging, I ask participants to email me photographs that are meaningful to them. Then I put the photos up on the screen and have them go into more detail. By the end of the exercise, participants have usually spoken somewhere between four hundred to a thousand words. In other words, enough to generate a blog piece.
In June 2015 I was presenting at the first annual Tomorrows Classrooms Today Conference. I had the honor of getting to hear numerous folks tell their stories. Each and every one of them was meaningful and it was an honor to share that time and space with such wonderful people. But one story in particular, I never forgot. And that was the one told by Bonnie Curran.
As I mentioned previously, the photo that she shared had to have been at least twenty years old. And it was a photo of she and her father around a campfire. There were other children in the photo and there were other adults present that night. But those of us in the room could tell, by the tone of her voice and the look in her eye, that being able to spend moments like that with her father meant the world to her then and they mean the world to her now.
When she was finished telling her story, the room was quiet. Bonnie made us feel as if we had all been there. I don’t remember what I said next, but I’m sure it had something to do with the strong bond she had with her dad and what a special person he must be. Then she surprised myself and many others in the room by sharing with us that her dad was in the room with us at that very moment. Talk about being blown away!
It turned out that her dad, Dr. Michael Curran Jr., was a local professor at Rider University and they had attended the conference together. How lucky was I that they chose to attend my session?
And how lucky was I to have them appear on My Bad almost two years later? The episode featuring Bonnie and Michael Curran was the first time I had ever interviewed more than one guest, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. In the end, it couldn’t have worked out any better. They complemented each other quite well. While Michael went first, he made it a point to allow Bonnie to shine. And shine she did. The story she shared was one that I think listeners will remember for a long time to come.
Michael began the interview by admitting that early in his teaching career he chose to emphasize hard skills and neglected to teach soft skills. He was charged with having his students master hard skills such as keyboarding, accounting and computer applications. Michael knew that his students needed these skills to be successful in their next stage of Life. It wasn’t as if he didn’t model soft skills such as kindness, caring and empathy. Anyone that has ever spent a minute with Michael knows that he models these skills daily.
But there came a point in his career when he realized that modeling wasn’t enough. He knew that if he wanted to be certain that his students left his class possessing the soft skills necessary to be successful in the work place or in college, then he was going to have to do more than model them. He was going to have to teach them.
Fast forward roughly twenty years to when Bonnie began teaching seventh and eighth graders. Like her father, it took her some time to realize that what she was being paid to teach sometimes had to take a backseat to who she was being paid to teach. Bonnie made it a point in the interview to mention that she is “still learning how to slow down, take a step back …and seek out the teachable life-skills moments.” Furthermore, she pointed out that it is okay to take the time to do this. I know this point resonated with at least one of the listeners because of the following tweet that I received the week that the Curran’s episode was released:
Lia’s tweet made me smile. I am aware of the fact that more and more people each month are listening to My Bad. I attribute this to the amazing guests that I have been so fortunate to have on the show. And I’d be lying if I said that I don’t look at the numbers. But messages like the one above are what motivate me to continue to help people tell their stories.
You’re probably still wondering about the quote that opened the chapter. And if you’re not then you should be. It’s bizarre. Why would someone choose to sit on a dirty-disgusting bathroom floor and why would was that Bonnie’s location of choice?
I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with Bonnie capturing one of those teachable life-skills moments that she talks about in the interview. I am certain it is a moment that each of us can relate to. Those moments where we think to ourselves, “screw reason, I’m doin’ it anyway!” I could attempt to retell the moment, but hearing Bonnie tell it is much more powerful. The link the episode is as the end of this piece.
Having the opportunity to interview a father and his daughter was an honor. The fact that the father and daughter that I interviewed were Bonnie and Michael Curran made it even more special. It was no surprise that they shared a microphone for the interview. I can picture the two of them huddled together around the phone lovingly giving each other space when it was their time to talk.
As I start to close this chapter I can’t help but think of one of the words Bonnie used in the interview. At one point, after her dad had completed his thought, Bonnie said, “I’d like to piggyback on what my father just said.”
It takes me back to the moment my connection with the Curran’s all began. A father, his daughter and a special moment that was rekindled because of a photo. The two of them looked as if they were having so much fun that night. And I could be wrong about this. But I’d bet money that that night involved at least one daddy-daughter piggyback ride.
* This is the fifth in a series of 10 pieces I'll be publishing weekly in which I highlight a past My Bad guest(s). I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please pass them on.
Here is the link to the Currans' episode: