I have been that mother picking a screaming child off the dirty floor of a Target store while he expressed his deep disappointment about not being able to obtain his 100th pack of Pokemon cards. Stomping feet were the mode of communication used by my youngest for multiple years. Future images of my toddler son still sucking his thumb as a teenager sent me into an anxiety spiral. The transitional aspect of raising children prevents even the most self-assured parents from celebrating a moment of success. Every new stage forces moms and dads to create an evolving set of solutions for issues yet to surface. Releasing the idea that mastery will ever be attained might be our only option to preserve sanity.
None of the situations mentioned above occur today. This truth reminds me that challenges will come and go, but the effects and lessons learned will be lasting. Many of my friends have openly expressed the growing concerns related to the current method of education. As we diligently create protocols to protect physical health, there appears to be emotional breakdowns on both sides of the virtual learning platform. Tragically, I can offer no solutions. However, I refuse to question the power I still possess as a loving parent.
Learning to advocate for and learn from both of my sons has been a primary focus of the last 15 years of my life. Grant’s intellectual disabilities have forced me to shift my focus from any particular activity or assignment onto my unique child. Does he feel encouraged, successful, and supported? Am I allowing him to be heard while fostering an independence that enables him to communicate directly with his teacher? I cannot rescue him from difficult tasks, but I also realize that he might need additional support that perhaps another child might find unnecessary. I witness the profound educational imprint on my oldest as he navigates his third year of college. At 20, Jake has the confidence to connect with his professors and articulate bold ideas and any possible confusion. This was a skill that took years of encouragement to master.
We all learn differently. The sooner a student understands how to advocate for themselves, the more in control they will feel about their learning. Thus, releasing some of the panic felt by young people that might not be thriving in a particular educational setting. Pictures of young people seated in front of a computer with tears flowing is simply heartbreaking. Patience needs to be practiced by everyone involved as we redefine successful learning.
Jake does not still suck his thumb. I cannot recall the last time either of my sons had a temper tantrum…thank goodness because they are too big for me to carry. I don’t have it all figured out, but as I review many of my past victories my confidence is renewed.
Parents hold on.
Students speak up.
Teachers breathe deeply.
Stunning breakthroughs occur only after we defeat whatever stands in the way of our victory.
Jamie, your words are truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing your talented gift of writing and shining light into what many of us parents struggle with and to reinforce we are all human.
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