3/20/12

Uncommon value

There are a few stand out moments for me as a parent. One was when I realized it was wrong for me to lose control of my anger in front of my child. This is about another.

Not long ago, I was having an especially difficult time as a parent of a teen. I was truly at my edge of reason and ready to grow my hair long enough to pull it out. Rob asked me a question. "What is the one thing that you wanted most as a teenager? Find it and give it."
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Self-confidence. That was easy. And, while I can't give it, I can certainly encourage it.

That helped with a discussion last night, just before bed, just me and Sydney. What if...just what if you stick with track and run your best and you're still on the bench? Or, what if those other girls that you think are so much faster than you, aren't really faster. Or, what if they're better in an event that you're not good at, so you get to compete in an event that you are good at because they're off doing something else? What if you tried out tomorrow and made the team?

How do you talk to girls? Girls are so emotional. Sydney can tear up in a discussion about the earth rotating around the sun, so how do I press "what if you tried..." How do I encourage someone that's primed for failure; that still doesn't think she's good enough? And how do I teach the difference between "trying and failing at track" and "pretending to try and failing at school work"? Why is one okay and not the other? Isn't that a double standard? It's okay to fail at the hundred yard dash, but it's not okay to bring home a C in math.

I don't know.

So, I did what I did know. I just didn't let up. Every time she told me she wasn't good enough, I pressed again; "what if you just did your best?" When she teared up and wanted to cry; "what if you just did your best?" When she complained that there were other girls that were better than her; "what if you just did your best?" And, the whole time, acknowledging that she's worried about it.

And, while I'm preaching it to her, I'm going through it for myself. Where is my own self confidence?

I couldn't even write a bio about myself to encourage people to take my class? I had to write it in the third person. Because I can talk about that other guy better than I can talk about who and what I am. I can tell you what "he" knows better than I can tell you what "I" know. I can tell you how great "he" is, but I cannot tell you that "I" have a skill. Blogging has meant I've had to learn to use "I" and "me" in print. But, these people are going to see me face-to-face. They know who I am. How do I talk to them about "me"? I couldn't. So, I talked to them about "him"

I can't give my child self-confidence. But, I can foster it. I can build her up and make her laugh and make her feel better about herself and accept herself for who she is instead of regretting that she's not a hundred and twelve pound blond with a perfectly pointy nose. I can tell her she's pretty and special and lucky. I can tell her that she needs to find people that deserve to be around her; especially boys (thanks Lucy for encouraging that). I can make time for her and sometimes make her priorities be my priorities. I can criticize and nag and discipline without making her feel like she's less than.

I can build up her ego until she knows her uncommon value.

And, I can take care of myself in ways that she can see. I can try new things that are hard for me to do. And, when I fail, I can let her know I failed and how I feel about it.

I can build up my ego until I know my uncommon value.

And, I can make sure she knows that I make mistakes and that I get scared. But, I keep doing my best.

Lane

13 comments:

JoAnne said...

Lane,
Don't sell yourself short! The shop would not have asked you to teach if they didn't have confidence in you. Ok, it is somewhat scary to teach (I have done so a few times) and the best thing that I have found is to be prepared. Knowing you, I have no doubts that you will be. The other really important thing to remember is that you aren't teaching physics, or personal finance, you are teaching QUILTING and you are comfortable with quilting as your students will be. The commonality of that will go far. Will you be perfect? No. I taught the same class several times to diffentent groups and always wished I had done better, but you know what? The students didn't know that. They were happy. I then realized that I was "learning" to be a teacher. I have faith in you that you will do a great job!

lw said...

You're going to be a fine teacher-- even if you get nervous, you can still demonstrate technique, and that's what we come to class for. I wish I could take the class.

Tell Sydney that I think she's pretty and special and lucky, too.

Trish said...

My husband heard that a)failure is ok and b) at a high school in New Jersey teachers wear t-shirts that say, "the only time failure is not ok is the last time you try"--applies to both of you!

Nancy said...

What amazing insight you have, and I am sure it will be remembered - maybe not right away, but it will stick and she will have reason to recall your words and trust them. Teenage years are hard, and I am glad she has you.

Patricia said...

I am at work Lane and am not suppose to be sitting at my desk tearing up! My students will think I am a sentimental sap!

Such words of wisdom---thanks for sharing them.

Seraphinalina said...

I am a girl (although well out of my teens) and I tear up pretty good when talking about things that hit home and are hard to change. It doesn't mean I'm not listening while tears are flowing. I had a melt down the other week, cried on the phone to my manager, left work early just feeling like a speck of dirt and I turned to a friend. He said a lot of things that I didn't want to hear and I just said to him I couldn't do it. Next day, I did a few of the things I said I couldn't do. At the time, I was telling the truth, I couldn't, doesn't mean I wasn't listing. Stick to your guns on this self esteem message right through the tears.

qltmom9 said...

BRAVO!!! Sending you an air kiss for that.~

Kath said...

I think it can be worth asking "If you were your best friend, what would you say to yourself?".

You're doing wonderfully Lane, I bet your a great parent.

Elizabeth said...

Math or track, a core value in life is giving it your best. The difference is, one is forced upon you (unless you sign up for extra math classes) and the other you choose. You said it best when you talked about the challenges at work and the challenges with quilting. The challenges with quilting are the challenges you choose. Both help you grow.

Underlying, or perhaps, coinciding with the self confidence issue, teaching a child that there are hard things in life and you just have to do them anyway is one of the hardest things to teach a child.

Being blonde isn't everything. I've been blonde, and it really isn't more fun. I much prefer my hair darker. Sometimes I like it red. And who wants a pointy nose? Sydney is beautiful just the way she is. Beauty is individual. And it comes from who you are, not how you look. There was a poster I saw somewhere when I was a teen. There were a dozen gorgeous red roses in a vase and one white shasta daisy in the bunch. The tag-line was "be your own kind of beautiful."

Just keep doing what you're doing, Lane. Help her to try her best and be her own kind of beautiful. Because she really is. You can tell her I said that.

xo -E

Becky said...

Wise words from a fella that has gained wisdom through the trial and fail method. Good job, Dad!

Andra Gayle said...

sounds like you are doing great. Can you come teach me how to do it once you figure it all out? :)

Cindy said...

I carried this Ann Landers column in my purse for many, many years and it helped not only me but both my boys too!

You`ve failed many times, although you don`t remember.

You fell down the first time you tried to walk.

You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim.

Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat?

Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.

R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.

English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.

Don`t worry about failure.

Worry about the chances you miss when you don`t even try.

creativedawn said...

I want to applaud your attitude and say how important it is to let your child know you are human and sometimes fail and make mistakes. We teach by example and you know that. I've been reading your blog a long time. I say to my children that I am not perfect, only my love for them is. I've been a devoted parent to three wonderful people and the last child graduates high school this June and will be off to college. Now, what do I do? LOL!
Congratulations on teaching your quilts!
hugz
Pam