I have been thinking lately about getting stuck in a thought pattern and how getting stuck sometimes turns in to BEing stuck. Sometimes I can get stuck so fast that I don't even know I'm stuck, I just think that's The Way I Am.
A few weeks ago, I posted on Always Learning asking for advice about how I could have handled a situation with E better. We have been walking and taking the bus to dance, gymnastics, the library and other places. I had taken into account weather, convenience, time and other factors to decide whether we should walk or take the bus to and from particular places. It seemed like every time I said we were taking the bus, E wanted to walk because "we never get to walk! The bus is boring!" Every time we were walking, she wanted to take the bus, because when we walked she was "hot and tired and hated walking."
I had put myself into a box of have-to's and my-way-is-rights and this-is-the-only-possible-solution. I wanted them to help me top the box with a pretty bow of making my way more fun for her so she'd quit complaining and just do it. Of course, they didn't, because those wise women are not interested in helping other parents top their mess with something pretty. They are interested with unpacking the box and sorting out the mess.
Someone had the idea of keeping a small notebook of games to play while walking or taking the bus, to make the trip more interesting. So I wrote a few down and the next time we left the house, we played some games. I talked to her and found out that she was feeling really frustrated about not having a car and I sympathized.
But the most important thing was that I had to let go of my insistence on doing things my way. I started asking her before we left whether she preferred to walk or take the bus that day. She has chosen to walk almost every time, which I thought she would regret on days when, for instance, that means walking a mile to gymnastics class, doing the class, then walking a mile home at 8 o'clock at night. The girls have both gotten tired, but I didn't resort to "I told you so." Instead we found solutions for that! I stopped rushing them and started just enjoying the walk myself. Last night we stopped at every street and driveway so they could sit down, I would count to 10, and then they would jump up again and skip and bound happily to the next driveway where they would sit down again. Did they burn more calories this way than if they had just quietly walked? Yah, probably. Were they happy and enjoying themselves in spite of not having a car? Yes! We all pried ourselves out of that sticky spot and starting flowing again.
All of that got me thinking about the ways people keep themselves stuck. I have been reading a lot lately about the power of our thoughts and how they affect our emotions and actions. When we say "I am..." we are saying that is The Way I Am Period. It leaves no room for change or growth. One thing that I said on the Always Learning discussion was "I just don't 'get' people and emotional stuff." I have told myself "I am not good at relationships and connecting with people." So even though I do try and I have grown and gotten better over the years, I have been convinced that no matter what I do it will only allow me to do a passable job of connecting, to maybe manage not to raise kids who need weekly therapy, but that I will never be as good at it as those people who are just naturally good at it. I'm going to do another post about just what the heck it means to be "good at connecting with people" anyway, but my point is that thinking that way is keeping me stuck and I'm not going to do it anymore.
I have also said, "I am just not good at remembering names and faces," but now I am saying "I'm learning to remember names and faces better," and I got a book from the library called Remember Every Name Every Time: Corporate America's Memory Master Reveals His Secrets.
What does this have to do with unschooling? One thing that makes unschooling work is the willingness and ability to find out things you don't already know. Kids ask a lot of questions and parents don't always have the answers, but we do have the resources to find the answers if we are willing. But we have to be willing to stop saying "I am not good at math/ I am too impatient/ I am too poor to give my kids a rich life experience" and start saying "I am learning more math as my kids learn it/ I am remembering to just breath when I feel impatient/ I am finding lots of free things to do and saving money for something big."
So, what about you? In what ways have you been stuck in the past and how did you get things flowing again? Have any of those times helped your relationship with your kids or others?