Monday, September 29, 2014

When I learn it, I'll get it

This year, for fourth grade, Lucia is in a new school where the curriculum taught is two years above grade level. In other words, in fourth grade, the kids learn sixth grade math. In Lucia's first week,  on our drive home from school, she said, "Mom, at school we had a math test and I only got like 20 out of 80 correct!" There was no discomfort in her voice; she sounded almost happy. I eyed her through the rear view mirror to see the expression on her face. She was calm as a cucumber. As she stared out of the window, she thoughtfully added, "But y'know Mom, I don't know that math yet. Once I learn it, I figure, then I'll get it." Boom. End of discussion.

Lucia, bless her little soul, is a bit of an A-type, even at the tender age of nine. She struggles when she does not know things and is much more comfortable in environments where she feels proficient. Shock and awe were my reactions when I heard her nonchalant response to her abysmal math performance. And happiness, relief, joy and pride.

While I wanted to shout to Lucia, "Yes, that's great. What a great reaction! You are learning. You will get it....", I did not. I've been doing this parenting dance long enough to know that silence is sometimes more effective that offering my thoughts.

Since this one-sided conversation with Lucia, I have watched and helped her do her math homework. She has definitely struggled--this new math is significantly more rigorous than the math at her last school. But she's also been okay. Somehow, somewhere, Lucia got in her mind that, first you learn it, then you do it.

I've learned a great deal from being a parent, and this is another great lesson. Doing new things--harder things, different things---is hard for everyone. Sometimes things come easier for some than others. Lord knows I've had my days of stink-eye (hidden deep inside, I hope) as I watch a brand new yoga student do postures with ease that I've struggled with for twenty years! But perfection is not the point.  Learning to do something new, different, hard, is the point. Bravo Lucia! Thanks for the lesson.

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