Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Music to my Ears
My attention span, at least by conventional standards, leaves something to be desired.
As a kid, I found school bearable by reading books under my desk,
passing COPIOUS notes to my friends
and daydreaming away the misery of being stuck at a desk within four walls.
Even now, I find that I need to break up periods of stillness with some sort of movement-
during church, I will get up once and go to the bathroom,
same thing during a movie in the theater.
If I am watching a television program, I usually have something else going on that I am doing to occupy my hands or my mind.
Fortunately, whether I *knew* these things about myself on a conscious level or not,
I chose a career direction that was all about activity and movement and short little attention spans-
I taught preschool age special ed.
Their attention spans matched mine perfectly!
One thing that stands out in my memory from my school days
was being corrected.
Being told to pay attention, being told I wasn't working up to my full potential,
being told to listenbestillbebetterbedifferent.
My poor Mom tried to be the Leader of my short-lived stint in the Brownie Troop.
Bless her heart, I'm sure I was awful.
I have no doubt I was talking and acting the fool when she was trying to talk
and of course, being my Mom and the Troop Leader, she would correct me.
I HATED IT.
It was bad enough to be corrected frequently at school by my teachers
but this was my Mom and an activity that was supposed to be FUN.
I became uncomfortable having my parent come to school by mid-elementary school.
I felt inadequate there, was afraid of what the teachers might tell them about my lack of focus and interest in school.
Fast forward to my own parenthood.
My first two kids LOVED to have me come to their school.
Mind you, I am fully aware that this is NOTHING that I did,
but all about them and their feelings about school- they felt successful at school and were happy to have me there to see that.
For Trey, it started out like that, until first grade, when his teacher began to complain about his lack of focus and "wiggliness."
After that, when I was in the classroom, I was on High "Mom Alert."
I'd be doing my task with one eye peeled toward my son.
If he was not paying attention, I'd be seeking to catch his eye and redirect him.
If he was talking, I'd make a hand signal to shush him.
Basically, I was all over him like white on rice.
I forgot how it felt to be a kid in my quest to be a parent.
I continued this stupid path of behavior through his second and third grade year
and, not surprisingly, he seemed to enjoy my presence at his school less and less.
I'd crossed the line from being his Mom to being his teacher,
but even worse, being focused solely on him and correcting his behavior. Publicly.
I am really grateful that one day it hit me, right between the eyes,
what I was doing to him and to our relationship.
If I continued this path,
he wouldn't ever want me at his school.
He wouldn't feel the joy and pride that the other kids felt when I went there.
Instead, he would feel weary and threatened.
From that moment on, I went to his school as his Mom.
If he wasn't paying attention, or getting something done, I let his teacher deal with it.
I tried to make a mental note of positive things I had seen and then I would mention them, in a casual way, at our home.
Letting him know that I enjoyed seeing him at school and not a word about any inadequacies.
Over time, his shoulders relaxed when I was there and I would see small smiles in my direction.
Last night, when I took him to basketball practice,
he asked if I was going to sit on the stage and watch the practice.
"I don't know," I said. "The stage is pretty uncomfortable."
"Oh, okay" he said, disappointed, his eyes downcast. "I just like it when you are there, watching me."
You can bet that my heart swelled with joy and that I was right there, sitting on that stage corner and watching my kid.
The Coach coached and I smiled, his Mom, proud of him and letting him know.