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Finding His Way Through

Posted by Jen on September 17, 2008 at 7:00 AM in Jen
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carter walks to school

Maybe my job isn't so much to protect him as to offer him company in the dark.
Maybe my role isn't to make things easier but to be a kind shoulder to lean on when he's finding his way.
Maybe the part I play is more celebrator than mastermind of solutions.

Could it be that those tears aren't a sign of weakness as much as a show of a mind connected all the way down to his heart strings?
Could it be that deep down he has what it takes to find a way through?

This week Carter shocked us all by deciding he liked his new teacher after all. All on his own he discovered a point of shared interest, and all week long I watched these two pair up to find their own connecting points. By Friday, they had a knowing look pass between them, the way old friends smile at each other over an inside joke. Who would have guessed they had so many similar interests? Who would have guessed that common ground would have come so easily?

There's so many ways to explain this kind of thing to yourself as a mother. You could doubt your initial instincts that the teacher was not an ideal match. You could second guess your kid's reaction next time around. Either approach would work I suppose. But there's a third way, too, and that is for me to see Carter as incredibly resourceful and determined. He latched on the first thing to come up that was positive for him, and his teacher was sharp enough to see that he needed to connect with her--maybe even more so because she has the reputation for being a little bit bristly and not overly warm and fuzzy.

No matter what the real reason, I'm feeling happy for Carter, and a little bit in awe of how he overcame his tears and found a way to make it work. He was trying every bit as hard as his teacher to make a good connection. That's a specific kind of approach to problems that will serve him his whole life through, and I was delighted to watch it in action for the very first time.

Do you find it hard to watch your kids struggle like this? When do you decide to intervene? When do you let them work it out on their own? I'd love to hear your perspective in the comments below.


Liz K writes...

I heartily struggle with my daughter's ups and downs, but every time, she shows me her strength and resilience. I try to let her take a pass or two at resolving issues on her own; I might coach her with a few strategies, but I do let her give it a go.

The best meditation for me has been the book "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee," which, although based on Jewish theology, it is so valuable to moms who feel their children's pain so sharply. It reminds us that we often suffer more than they do. Check it out.

Danyelle writes...

Great post Jen! I just wanted to stop by and say that I really appreciate the Supersisters blog. I find it comforting that there are other mothers out there that can identify with the daily ins and outs of parenting. Being the eldest of four sisters myself, I also appreciate that you three are sharing this journey together and with the internet. Girl power!!!!!

Monica writes...

I tend to take exactly this approach to parenting, *when I remember*. I particularly like thinking that my children (and me too) have exactly what it takes, deep down inside, to make it over any hurdle that presents itself.

My dad always sent us this message. My mom was the coddler, and my dad always said, "let her (me) do it herself ... she can do it." Recently I was going through a particularly hard time ... my mom desperately just wanted to make it better, but in a spark of wisdom she said that I'd have to find my own healing path ... it felt so good to hear her say that. Especially after I'd tried every imaginable piece of advice everyone had ever thrown out for my particular problem. I really felt like such a failure, b/c nothing I was doing was working. And when she said, this is your path, your journey, and you will find a way through this for YOU ... I felt such hope and such freedom. So even as an adult we need to hear these things from those we love.

Thanks for the reminder.

Jennifer writes...

I'm so glad it worked out that way for him.
I do find it hard to fully let them do it themselves, but as someone above said- I try really hard to let them. And I think we're so often surprised with a great learning experience for ourselves!

Karen writes...

I go through life peeking through fingers held over my eyes, forcing myself to stay back, to let nature take its course. Mother nature knows what she's doing, and I step aside most of the time, with band-aids, hugs, celebration and a bowl of ice cream now and then. Victory is sweet, no matter how long the wait.

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