Friday, October 1, 2010

FRAGILE: Handle with care!

A child's emotions are similar to a porcelain vase. You need to handle with care. As we grow up we learn to toughen up, grow a thicker skin as they say. But if you are a preteen or teenage girl, that can be easier said than done. Compound all those hormones swirling around to the normal girl "stuff" and you have something similar to fine china walking around trying to stay together. Getting bumped and pushed and walking around in a cold world is difficult on anyone, for it's almost impossible to not get a chip or a crack. Much less shatter. Last night I witnessed the shatter.

Sometimes we lack the ability or even the know how to express what we are feeling. Sometimes as children we believe that the adults should be smart enough to figure it out. They are adults after all they have had a lifetime of growing to become knowledgeable in the growing and caring of young girls. What they don't realize is that even though we as grown women have had the lifetime of experience, we are not in fact mind readers. And all people young and old are different.

Journey if you will with me back in time nine years. You have a beautiful little girl. Your beautiful little girl isn't talking. So you put her in preschool to be around other kids so she can learn to communicate. Doctors say she will in time, she just has her sister and mother doing all of her talking for her. Preschool isn't helping and they send her for hearing tests. Hearing tests come back fine. First steps starts coming for speech. When she is three they stop coming and you take her to a special preschool where she can get the help she needs. Fast forward now six years and said child is in fourth grade and is "graduating" out of speech. You aren't certain this is for the best but everyone says she is ready, and your child is excited because they told her first. So she graduates from speech and everyone moves on.

The child starts doing well in school. She dances and plays ball. She at one point takes six dance classes and manages to keep them all straight for a recital. She starts working on her pitching. She wants to be a pitcher. She gets pretty good. She goes to the coach and asks to pitch. Repeatedly says please put me in I'm ready, give me a chance. He refuses and passes her up for an even younger member of the team. He never sees her pitch. The next year she refuses to play. In dance she has a year where there are two girls who won't stop picking on her. No one will help, no one will move her to another class. The next year she refuses to dance. She discovers volleyball in school. In sixth grade volleyball she can't be stopped. The parents in the stands can't believe how well she is doing. Her serve pushes the other kids back to get ready. They see her coming. She wants to play all the way through school and take it to college. She makes the seventh grade team. Seventh grade proves harder than she anticipated. She doesn't feel a part of the team. She feels excluded. At one point she is bypassed in practiced because the coach forgets she is there.

She starts shutting down. The team tries to get her into a huddle but it's too late. The crack is getting bigger. She has a rough game. She makes mistakes, but she feels it isn't going to matter no one notices her anyway. Why is she doing this? She's gone from citizen high to citizen low and all she wanted to do is play. The crack gets bigger. Then instead of going for help, because that has worked so well for her before, she breaks. Was she right?

Did she go about things the right way? Probably not. Actually she probably went about things the worse possible way she could. But, there wasn't anyone there last night that didn't know she was there. She made her presence quite visible.

Sometimes it isn't enough to be observant. Sometimes you have to have the conversation. And sometimes... you have to give people a chance, because if you don't the thread they are holding onto breaks. As her parent I forgot. I got so wrapped up in how well she seemed to be doing. She was outgoing, she was one of the stars of a play over the summer, she plays the piano and the oboe beautifully. She had come so far for so long, I never once stopped to see if her emotions had caught up to her success'. As her parent I saw her struggling, I was observant but I didn't know what to do to help, so I blamed her. She needed to get out there and make herself part of her team. I had a conversation with her, many actually encouraging her to just push in there and be a part of things. Last night the thread snapped anyway. This morning now that I'm not embarrassed or angry, I'm not so sure we didn't all drop the vase. I'm thinking I did for sure. But I have to say that after the initial parent meeting after hearing them say that they do things their way and that you can't complain if little Susie isn't getting enough playing time, because everyone will get a turn. I'm not so sure it was just me. I for one didn't feel I could go and say something, because they didn't want to hear it. Not to mention the fact that these people are my friends. I don't want to be disrespectful, I don't want to place blame, I just want answers to question. I didn't know how to go about it. Sometimes my big mouth can get away from me, and I end up doing more harm than good. No one wants that.

I understand having leaders. Our country is run by leaders. But at what expense are we being run here? Who is winning? Even the leaders make mistakes but sometimes they refuse to acknowledge it was they who made it. How do you place children in positions this early in the game when they should be learning them all? In high school they will have to know them all. How can you position them this early when you don't know what they can do? How do they get well rounded? How do they learn to work together if they don't understand each others positions? How do they learn to work together if you have four of them trying to play all of the positions? I am not a coach. I am not even a player. You would be hard pressed to find a sport I completely understood. But I like to think that as a person, sometimes I understand people. And I know from experience there are only so many times you can get shut down before you pack it up and quit. Is that what we want to teach them?

We spend a lot of time tell our kids to grow up. Why? They have their entire lives to be grown up. Once they are grown up that's it. They will always be grown up, they will never get to be kids again. They have this one chance to be a kid. That isn't to say they shouldn't behave age appropriately. They should. I'm one of the biggest culprits of this actually. My kids act up, I tell them to grow up. We sometimes forget that each new experience is just that, a new experience. They are new. Each new thing is new they haven't experienced anything like it before. Instead of telling them to grow up we should take the time to understand where they are coming from. Listen... They can't talk if you are doing all the talking. You can't understand them if you don't put forth the effort to try.

I'm not making excuses for anyone. Especially my children. In fact I'm probably too hard on them. I tolerate little and just as my mother did, I yell first, ask questions later. This is in no way my best trait. It would have served my family best if I had inherited her baking skills, but no I got the yelling trait. All the way home last night, I yelled, my husband yelled. What purpose did it serve? She already knew we were upset. She already knew she was in trouble. She did it anyway. I have to remind myself that my kids are just that, kids. They make mistakes, just like I do. Unlike me however, they are new. They aren't adults they aren't even mini adults, they might like to think they are, but they aren't they are kids. It's our job to guide them and help them along the way.

I talked with her this morning. A new day. I explained to her that this isn't like softball. This is a new sport and new coaches. She has to learn to give people the opportunity to listen to her that she expects them to give to her. If she is having a problem she needs to feel comfortable going to someone and asking for help. Don't dismiss all adults as being the same. Just like no one kid is the same neither are adults. I hope it helps. I talked to her about standing in our own way. Sometimes the only person holding us back from what we want is ourselves. A lesson I am still learning. And mostly life is about learning and you spend your whole life learning and growing, you don't just get old and all of a sudden it all becomes very clear. It's a process and when we are done then we can go home and Jesus will explain it all to us then. But I believe that each stage is a process in our learning. There is a reason for everything, it isn't for us to understand it's for us to learn and grow. The why doesn't matter, only the lesson we learn from it matters.

No comments: