Life Skills – Then to Now

When I left off this story, we’d just had a less than ideal meeting.  Another committee member was less gloomy than I, pointing out that this was the one chance for people to get put stuff out there.  It was important, she said. Everyone brings value, they had their say, now we’re done with that.  She was right, of course, and definitely less Draconian.

When I felt threatened, I retreated to less than skillful habits.  At the same time, the possibility of descending into committee chaos was real.  I knew we needed more structure, but what about the interpersonal stuff?  What was it that I always advised people to do when I see them being pulled into a whirlpool of drama.

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Do not engage.

I don’t understand why but I know there are people who survive on crazy-making.  The chaos they create feeds some need.  While I like a choppy sea as much as anyway, I generally only enjoy it from a safe distance on the beach. There’s a lot to be said for the serenity of an unagitated lake. You get a more accurate reflection there.

So I pulled back my energy.  I didn’t fire off quick, snarky, and regrettable responses.  I walked away, remembered my lake and kept it all on the surface.  Sure enough, one person dropped off the committee.

We were coming out of the U.  The school is creating its six-year accreditation plan and incorporated pieces of this into it, which is great because it means all the resources of the system are behind it.  They built their goals from the ground up.  For the next few years, they will infuse the culture with the concept of respect.

In the meantime, we are guiding our actions by the survey and working on some nuts and bolts, specifically addressing the issues of organization and self-management.

And here’s the irony.  I knew that everyone was coming into this committee with an agenda, but I hadn’t realized mine.  This year, after the committee was rolling, my daughter’s self-management skills were put to the test.  She moved up to junior high this year, meaning there are now six teachers instead of three, each with their own systems and expectations.  Where my daughter had been able to get by up to this point on a good memory and natural smarts, it became abundantly clear that she had not acquired the skills to cope with a workload that exceeded her innate abilities.  She was in serious trouble.  The school jumped in at my request, putting all sorts of processes in place to prop her up.

The biggest barrier to getting started was my daughter standing in her own way.  Isn’t that the way it always is?  She’s always been the honor roll kid, so once she started drowning, she was too invested in her own self-labeling to ask for help.  She chose lies and cover-ups instead.  The poor kid told me that if she wasn’t the smart kid in class, she didn’t know who she was.

This was definitely one of those weird gifts we receive in life.  I think this same thing happens to most or all of us at some point, our false little boxes we’ve made no longer contain us.  It’s valuable to come through this, to learn the painful but liberating lessons of our own imperfection.  Hers came at a pretty young age.

As for the committee, we are moving forward with a variety of programs to meet the immediate needs.    I am worried about how parents will play out their own issues as we get more into the respect program, so we’ve started to assemble a group of books to use as anchors. My goal is to find ways for the parents to bring their own unconsciousness to the surface and work on their issues before they start projecting them on the school, the leaders, the kids.  I’d like to host book discussions with parents in advance of rolling out the programs, but it seems to be gaining zero momentum. This will be a bullet point on the next agenda.

Stay tuned!

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