Being the first week of middle school, there are a lot of nervous students and even more nervous parents. Meeting with a few of these parents this week, I said to a coworker that underneath the specifics of each child, underneath their “learning style” and labels, all any parent wants to hear from us teachers is: Your child will be loved. Your child will be held. Your child will be okay.
It’s this last piece that I think is the hardest for some to grasp, because I think it’s hard to grasp about ourselves. But a child is a developing being, and often what that means is that there are moments when they will not be “okay.” They will feel angry, frustrated, lonely, righteous, overwhelmed, and frightened. In other words, they will feel human.
The faculty read this summer was The Gift of Failure, and while there are efforts in place to disseminate this information to the parents of our students, too, until that happens, it’s a one-on-one meeting at a time to say, Yes, I hear that your child is having a hard time. However, I also hear that this is a chance for them to learn something new about resilience, flexibility, perseverance, and independence.
The ironic piece is that, in my own way, I’m trying to protect these students, too! Trying to save them — from “bio-doming” themselves, or their parents doing it for them. I’m trying to save them from not experiencing the slings and arrows. To be clear, I’m not injuring these children!!! I’m just holding what I see as the bigger picture… and that picture sometimes clashes mightily with the bigger picture a parent sees.
And, oy, how that “is what it is.”
There is little I can do to change the perspective of parents, except to gently encourage them to take their hands off the back of the bicycle seat and allow their child to falter.
I can also work on my own letting go of their experience and actions. I want them to see things my way, but that’s a two-way street.
What I want and what is are generally extraordinarily disparate until I can get on board with what is. And what “is” is that people are nervous, people are frightened, and I don’t have to save them from those feelings. But I do need to open to the experiences of others and not consider my way the right way, either.
There’s so much “learning” going on, and we haven’t even had a full week of class!;)
G-d save and help us. We are all only human.