Monday, August 9, 2010

lesson learned

Last week I took Max and Elle to the junior high to pick up their school schedules.

Max glanced over his, commented on a couple teachers he was glad he got, and that was that.

Elle, on the other hand, clutched that schedule to her heart and smiled....the kind of smile that was excited but nervous as all get-out.

Over that afternoon and the next day she talked to her friends to compare schedules. Every one of them she could think of. I figured the more she talked the more classes she'd realize she had with friends, and her nervous smile would morph into that confident and secure one I'm used to seeing. But with every friend she talked to her smile got a little weaker. One class with one friend. Then one more trickled in...and then there was a full stop.

As her friends compared schedules with each other, they gleefully announced more and more classes together. Elle, on the other hand, slunked back in a corner and worried. She wasn't going to see much of her friends at school.

Her nervous smile got more and more gloomy...trying to keep her chin up (she doesn't complain about much), but scared-to-death inside.

Now, what would a good mother do here? Pat her on the back and tell her everything would be ok. Tell her all about how many new friends she's going to make. Give her the confidence she needed to go forward and be excited about school.

What did I do? Well, my instinct is to just change things that don't work out the way you want them to. Talk to the guy seating people in a restaurant when there's an hour wait and work your way in. Talk to doctors who don't "get" your childs' needs and tell them what must be done. Fight for what you want. Fight for your kids. That's my philosophy.

So I mentioned to Elle that maybe we should just call the office and see if they'd switch things around. I mean, I could work the system here, right? Who says my daughter needs to go to Jr. High surrounded by people she doesn't know? I could make it "right."

At first Elle looked at me horrified...that same look she gave me when I told her she should go on the temple trip with all the youth in our ward even if she wasn't quite old enough. That girl's a rule follower. But she was desperate enough that she let that little bit of an idea work into her head for an afternoon. And by evening she was ready for me to fight to change her schedule.

The problem was that by then I had talked to Dave. Wise, wise Dave. When I told him the dilemma he laughed. How would Elle learn if I went in and fixed everything for her every chance I got? What happened to my continual mantra about how "we do hard things" in our family.

Of course he was right. And Elle knew it even before Dave spelled it out for me.

So, with her chin up and a nice pat on the back from her mother-who-has-learned-a-good-lesson, she's headed to school in a couple days...to meet a bunch of new friends.

She'll do just fine. After all, we do hard things.

And I better brace myself because I'm going to have to watch my kids do all kinds of hard things in life that it would be easy but totally wrong for me to swoop in and try to "fix."

But I do hard things too.

33 comments:

meeks said...

I guess as parents we do "hard things" too. Stepping back, not fighing the fight, going against what our first instincts are...they are all "hard things"...painful even...but like your daughter, we need to put our chin up and do what we have to do. Thanks for the remindering me of this.

momoftwo said...

Yes, Elle will do wonderfully!! As I was reading this, I was getting disappointed, thinking that you would call the school and request some class changes. I know I don't "know" you personally, but I have come to know you through this blog. I didn't think you were "that kind of mother." Glad to know that I was right!! Elle will make loads of friends and be a stronger person because of it!! Kudos to you all!!!

...You May Say I'm A Dreamer said...

These are the "motherhood" decisions that are sometimes the hardest to make. Your hubs is, as you said, a wise man. Elle is beautiful and, from what I have read, a smart, fun, sweet girl who will touch the lives of many other kids because of your decision to let things play out as they are. I wish you and your family a wonderful school year and am confident that Miss Elle with have a GREAT year!
~Mary

Sonja said...

Somehow I knew you wouldn't do. With that smile and her friendly nature, she'll be introducing her new friends to her old friends by the time the first week is over.

We don't start school until Sept. 7th here--it sounds so early to hear your kids start so soon. But then again, our kids went until almost the end of June.

Enjoy those last days home together!

Sophie said...

I think Elle will do just fine. You've raised a great young lady.

dg darling said...

I TOTALLY understand! I have had a similar dilemma this year with Thomas and as I wrote about the other day, I had to eat a little crow for breakfast to learn my lesson! It wasn't pleasant but like your's, it was a lesson learned all the same...

Karlene said...

I've had this EXACT same dilema. I also went through the exact same anxiety about letting it just happen. But guess what? She had a great year and made lots of new friends!(that added to the old ones:)I'm so glad we didn't change anything!

Brandee said...

It is so hard being a mother. Our instincts tell us to "rescue." I hate having to watch them try and figure things out, but it is always so much better we they can figure it out on their own. Elle will be great at JR. High. She will make so many new friends and can still have lunch with her current friends. It is the best of both worlds. It doesn't get any easier...my oldest started college. No friends in those classes.

Sydney said...

I have paddle this same boat, also. All of my children have done what Elle is going to be doing. I was so nervous for each of my children. But, they all did it and came out better for doing this particular "hard thing". From all that I have read about your family and Elle, she has everything it takes to accept and succeed with this challenge that is ahead of her...and ahead of you. Good luck and happy days of school!

Cardalls said...

First instinct is always to fix and rescue. But I think of our Heavenly Parents who don't fix everything for us because they know in the end that is how we will become like them.

Karen said...

I met my lifelong best friends in Jr. High, and didn't know a single one of them before I got there. You did the right thing, of course. Having said that, it's our natural tendency to swoop in and want to make things right for our kids. Such a balancing act, isn't it?

pakosta said...

Elle will do awesome! she will make new friends and keep the old!
I think it's our first thoughts as a mom to try to fix everything! glad you didn't do that for her, because it will be a GREAT learning experience!!! I can't wait to hear all about it! Elle has confidence, and she will gain even more now!
tara

Nichole said...

Blake was going through the same scenario first making sure he didn't get any mean teachers and then finding out who was in his classes. It is amazing in the jr high/ high school years how quickly they make new friends and the group expands. I have loved that for Kiley as she has broadened her circle of friends and met all different kinds of kids. I know Elle will do amazing! She is spunky and fun and has the ability to make any situation a good one. I think it great for these kids to get out of elementary school comfort zone and become and individual, to put themselves out there and learn how to communicate. Kiley made some of her very best friends in jr. high not knowing them before and has continued those relationships in high school. Elle will do amazing! She has big bro. Max to be her biggest supporter too! How lucky is that!

myla.daniels said...

Please let us know in a few weeks how she is doing. And tell her that I said - her Bestest Friend Ever might be waiting for her in these new classes.
Best Wishes Elle - Go Get Um Girl.
Way To Go Dave - You Da Man!!!
And Shawni, I Can Totally Relate . . . We Mom's Want To Make Everything Alright For Our Little Munchkins!!! LOL

Kim said...

My first day of middle school was 1500 miles away from all of my friends, we had moved to Indiana from Washington. I didn't know anyone in the entire school. I made lots of friends and did well!! She'll do great, and make lots of new friends!

The Atomic Mom said...

She will do just fine. I remember going to a new Junior High after 7th grade, where I "knew" I'd know no one. I had met one other new girl in my ward over the summer and she'd be new as well. That first day of 8th grade we walked to school together, and just jumped in. At then end of the day, I'd made some new friends, saw a girl that had moved from my 7th grade school (of course we attched to each other immedieatly when we saw each other) and it was ok. Your daughter is a strong, happy, good girl and will be just fine.

Ford Family said...

Amen, sista.

Leah said...

Thank you for this post! I had the same dilemma with my daughter and had the same thoughts that I shouldn't change things because I always pray that they will get the teachers that would be best for them but I almost caved! It is just nice to hear it from another mom! I love your blog! Thanks for all of the wonderful inspiration!

Vera said...

This was a funny post to come to today, because this morning I was reading Teaching Your Children Values, and there was a story in there about you having the courage to talk to your teachers about grades. I'm like you though, about my kids, and as I know as they get older I'm totally going to have to learn this lesson!!

Tanya said...

That is so great! Please let us here the updates, struggels and triumphs so we mothers can be strong when faced with similar things!

Hilary said...

Jr High was the same way for me. My mom wanted the name of a new friend of mine every day. I was SUPER shy before that grade, but it was a huge help to learn to stetp out of my comfort zone.

A pretty big deal since my friends here consistantly turn over... super great life skill. :)

Tatum said...

I think Elle's going to have lots of fun at Greenfield!I'll have to see if she has some of my old teachers!

Mary Beth said...

That's a really hard one. I remember having the same situation in jr. high.

I lived to tell the tale!!! :)

Go mama!

Elam's said...

Yes - your husband is wise... it's a good job we have hubbies to help and give new perspectives to our own.
I love to read your blog, and book (it helped me get out of my year-long postpartun depression), however, there have been two times now that I have felt a little dissapointed, as I see the other side of what you are experiencing concerning your comments on Doctors. I understand that as a mother (as I am one too) that you want all the best for your children... but hey - please don't take it out so hard on the docs. Yes there are some bad ones out there, but as the wife of a doctor myself, generally docs do all they can, and it is very frustrating to my hubby who after years of study, training, sacrifice, and long hours, he does everything he possibly can for a patient, and then is told by a family member of the patient that they know better and that he isn't doing enough. Yes you are your beatiuful daughter's mother and have every right to fight for her, but please don't get so public about your feelings on such an individual personal matter when you are in a position to be of such great inluence to others.

Vienna and Ricky said...

Hi, I stumbled to your blog a few weeks ago and have found that your honesty at frustrations, and ability to find and express joy at life little blessing has seen me coming back. My kids are still at the 4,2 and 1yrs stage and I like to imagine that maybe you are where I may be in nine or ten years, some days are still life but that happiness, contentment and a sense of self is there to be seen in your children eyes.

Karey said...

Sometimes the hardest thing we do is fight the fight and sometimes the hardest thing we do is avoid the fight. It requires the spirit and a mother and father's intuition to know which hard thing is the right thing.

I'm about to face the hard thing of letting my son leave for college next week and then on a mission in four and 1/2 months. Not that I have any choice in the matter, and not that I'd change anything about it, but it's going to be a very hard thing. It already is!

kms said...

Sorry I have to say years of study and sincere concern aren't enough. Medical science just hasn't gotten that far. What is hard is having a loved one not right and no answers, or the wrong answers. With no sign of improvement or things getting worse. Those concerns brought forth by family who see day to day are what gets the doctors thinking outside the box to finally identify the correct condition.

Corrie said...

good for you! It would be very hard as a mum to do that because instinct tells me to step in and make things easy for her!

good luck elle! I bet she has a ball and meets lots more new friends and has a ball :)

corrie;)

Rebecca said...

I rarely comment on your blog b/c I am typically entertained enough by your commentary rather than putting my own spin on it, but today I speak as a middle school teacher. You're doing the right thing...changing a schedule for reasoning such as incorrect placement or a child being bullied is one thing, but changing it all around so she can be with her friends is just not important enough. She may even make some new friends!

I really appreciate your openness to listen and change your plan of action. There are so many parents with blinders on and you are just not one of them. I hope I can be like that when the Crazies are ready for these little life lessons...thanks for posting.

shawni said...

Dear "Elam's,"

I am sorry to sound so down on doctors. The truth is I am thankful as can be for doctors. We would have no idea of how to help Lucy without them. I am so thankful for all the efforts they put in...all the schooling, all the studying...to make life better for people. And I have some dear friends who are doctors or who are married to them. Yes, doctors have helped us immensely...I have a whole post coming about the outstanding ones we met at Duke University as part of a conference for Lucy's syndrome this summer. I don't think I've ever met kinder, more devoted people.

I think in our health struggles we have had some frustration because we have met SO many doctors. And among that many, there are bound to be a couple who just aren't the greatest fit for us (like the nephrologist I went to who took a cell phone call from his friend in the middle of our appointment). There are also nurses who have been demeaning and quite rude. Which is so heartbreaking when you are dealing with issues you are so nervous and worried about and wishing with all your heart for answers.

The bottom line is, though, that we'd be completely lost without doctors and I'm so thankful for those good ones who have literally changed our lives with their expertise. I'm sure your husband is one of the great ones, and thank you for standing up for him.

Love, Shawni

~THE JENSEN FAMILY~ said...

Oh how I must commend you for how you responded to the be nice to the doc post Shawni.

I survived a fatal motorcycle wreck because of amazing doctors. And God bless them for all they do and have done and will do... but just like any other profession, there are some that absolutely don't fit and don't deserve respect. I once had a doctor, who was doing an independent medical exam for my retirement from the police department actually write in his final eval.."patient is too pretty to be in pain" REALLY? That had absolutely what to do with the pins plates and posts holding my spine and pelvis together???? and my inability to carry a gun anymore?

I am sorry if it sounds mean to docs or docs wives but there are bad people out there everywhere and in every profession and it is so unfortunate when we come in contact with them at times that we need them the most. It is your right to put it on your blog when you need to vent. KEEP IT UP SHAWNI!!!!!

PS. Good for you letting Elle work through the tough schedule. I know a lot of moms that actually tried to switch their kids into other classes just so that they could be with their friends this year and our principal put the kabosh on that real quick. My son went through this struggle in 3rd grade but it turned out amazing and he grew leaps and bounds from it!!!!!

Elam's said...

Shawni - Thank you for your response and kind words...

But to "KMS" and "the Jensen Family", in my defense - I too also agreed in my original comment, that yes there are some bad docs out there that just plain don't do their job well at all and shouldn't really be doctors - I know that too.

HOWEVER... There are just a whole lot more that do more than "just their job" and who do really care about their patients and do all they can that it is unfair to make a generalised statement that reflects negatively on people who do such a great work. Too many people expect Doctors to be perfect and know all the answers, however, there is a reason it is called "praticing medicine" and not "perfect medicine".

Eyrealm said...

Can't wait to hear the outcome! As you know I love hard! It may take a while to settle in but Elle is a champ! She's be spectacular!

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