Sunday, May 20, 2012

I can't believe I wore those underpants!

Remember first grade? Fourth grade? Eight grade? Everyone has some time in school that kind of sucked. You got teased or bullied or wore a kilt with really loud underpants on tumbling day in gym in third grade. It is that indelible memory that you have for years, maybe your whole lifetime, of utter embarrassment or despair or humiliation. It enters your semi-consciousness periodically. As the years go by, it has much less power. The memory is more like a whisper that a kinesthetic jolt.

This year my daughter Lucia had her time (or at least one of her times). Three boys singled her out and decided she was the one to whisper about. Lucia never knew the content much beyond, "Lucia has a boyfriend." As a first grader, Lucia was embarrassed, humiliated, and ultimately, after too many days of the same unrelenting teasing, in despair. The situation has since been remedied and I think if that is "the" big moment that will plague Lucia's psyche into adulthood, she is very lucky indeed.

While Lucia was enduring this, I felt conflicted. On the one-hand, I thought, "I should kick those bad boys in the ass and tell them to take a hike." On the other-hand, I thought this is an opportunity for Lucia to take on some discomfort and find her way through it. The situation was bad enough that the teacher and principal did end up getting involved. The boys targeted another girl in Lucia's class and when Lucia told her to just ignore them (as she'd been instructed), one of the boys pushed her, knocking her to the floor. In a private meeting with Lucia, her teacher and the principal they told her that she had been brave to help the other girl. They told her that they were there to support and help her. At the end of the meeting, Lucia felt proud, special, and courageous. She had new energy to take on the problem.

Lately, I've noticed that there is surge in people struggling on their mats. Could be weather related. Could be because we have lots of new students. Maybe it's me. I struggle myself--often. When I see people fidgeting compulsively or leaving their mats at random times to fill their water bottle or go to the bathroom or do whatever, I think (and often say aloud), "Just hang in there. Stay the course of your discomfort or anxiety or dizziness." I advise this, because when we do stay the course, we learn that we can get through it, so next time the fidgeting or leaving the room won't be our first choice.

I can see it with Lucia. She didn't get a new classroom. She got some new tools and some thicker skin. I know sometimes it is hard to stay in a class that feels challenging and frustrating and overwhelming. But try. You'll find that what you get is much more satisfying. At the end of your class you will feel proud, special and courageous. Staying the course might not be your first choice, but it's the best choice.

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