Monday, September 16, 2019

In Hindsight, What Advice Do You Wish Your Parents/Guardians Had Given You?

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

About a month before school starts, the hype and sale promotions have begun in earnest, pressuring you to take your child(ren) to the closest store and let them pick out the latest “in” backpack of their dreams along with all the new markers, crayons, glittery pencils, flashy notebooks, the latest Lion King erasers and stickers, not to mention a specially designed chiller lunch bag that keeps food cold until it’s time to eat it. Your children’s lobbying begins, based on the advertising plot to hamstring your heartstrings. In fact, this has always been a tradition; we manipulated it in the same way as kids, didn’t we? (And we got away with it!)

In hindsight, here’s what I wish had happened;

Mom: “Let’s add up what each item costs and compare the prices to see if we’re getting the best price for pencils, for example.”

Me: “Why are we doing this, Mom? What difference does the price make?”

Mom: “It’s important that you know how to add, subtract and make comparisons so you aren’t spending more than you should. This analysis process will help you in the future.”

Me: (Eyes rolling) “Ok, Mom, but if we have enough money to pay for it, what difference does it make if it’s a few cents more than the one I don’t want?”

Mom: “It might not mean much to you right now, but saving money now could allow you to buy the car of your dreams later.”

Me: “Ok, I get it. Flashy pencils now or something more important later.”

Here’s another scenario. The first day of school looms closer and closer and the fear of the unknown plus the rumors about the classroom teacher that I’ve been assigned to have enhanced the trepidation. Mom coddled me and even brought my Dad into the conversation. The next thing I know, he’s telling her that they should go to the Principal and change the teacher!

Here’s what I wish had happened;

Me: “I’m really afraid to go to school this year, and scared of my new teacher.”

Mom: “Did you know that almost every kid in this town is feeling the same way you are?”

Me: “What? How do you know that?”

Mom: “Ever since I was as young as you, all of us were scared about starting a new year.”

Me: “Why?”

Mom: “Because it was something new and we didn’t know what would happen, I guess it was a ‘fear of the unknown.’”

Me: “Why do we fear the unknown?”

Mom: “Why do you think we fear the unknown?”

Me: “I guess it’s because we don’t know what’s going to happen and we can’t control it.”

Mom: “I think you’re on the right track. Is the fear real or increased because of your imagination?”

Me: “I get it, Mom, it’s scary thoughts and not real, like science fiction.”

Mom: “And what about your last teacher?  You were afraid because of negative things you’d heard. Did any of those come true?”

Me: “No, not really.”

Mom: “Why do you think you believed the rumors about someone?”

Me: “Because I didn’t want to think friends were lying to me, but I think I should have waited to see what would happen.”

Mom: “And what did you find?”

Me: “Most of the time, they were exaggerating and the things they said weren’t true.”

Mom: “I know it’s been a year since you expressed these same feelings last August. What can you learn from this?”

Me: “Did I do the same thing last year?”

Mom: (Smiles)

One more that might hit home with our students/your children:

Me: “I have to go to ‘this place’ to shop for school clothes.”

Mom: “Why, honey? You have a dress code that’s pretty specific, why is it important to go to that particular store?”

Me: “Because of the labels, Mom! Everyone knows the kids who buy their clothes from the good store and from the other store.”

Mom: “Does the store make you a better person?”

Me: “Maybe not, but I want to be cool like the popular kids. They all wear clothes from that store.”

Mom: “If you bought clothes at that store, would that make you popular?”

Me: “Well, maybe, but it will keep me from being teased about what I’m wearing.”

Mom: “So, what really bothers you is the fear of being teased and you think that buying clothes at the ‘right’ store will prevent that and make your time at school ‘tease-free?’”

Me: “Not really. They’d find something else to tease me about, like missing the ball in PE.”

Mom: “How about figuring out a strategy to deal with the teasing when it happens?”

Me: “That might help, it’s worth a try.”

I’m sure that many of our parents in Southwest Florida have had these conversations or ones like them. If you have other conversations that might help our local students, please send them to me at the Coastal Breeze and they’ll be included in my next article in preparation for school to start. Students, same goes for you! Do you wish your parents had these conversations or other conversations with you? Use the same format and send them to me at the Coastal Breeze. If you are okay about your name being published, be sure to state that on your contribution. These are posted to help parents/kids be more successful. Can’t wait to see your ideas!

Wishing you the best year ever, TBE, congratulations on your “A” rating and attendance participation this past year! You are striving to be the best you can be, I’m so proud of you!

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

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