Choose your stone
"Like a peddle thrown into water
The ripples will turn into waves
That go out and touch one another
With what you do and what you say.
Be you kind or be you cruel
Be a wise one or be a fool
How you win and how you lose
It's your own stone to choose
We touch others with what we say and do
That which you send out will come back to you
In the waves in the water from the stones that we throw
Someday, somehow, somewhere,
Someone will know . . . .
Whatcha going to say? Whatcha going to do?
What will they remember, when they remember you?
Whatcha going to give? Who you going to know?
How ya going to live? Where you going to go?
Which stone will you choose to throw?
Choose your stone, choose your stone . . . ."
~By Christine Tortorella for The Children's Village
Last Thursday, I bit the bullet and began potty training the Beats. Since Thanksgiving, we've abandoned the changing table and they have been getting all diaper changes done in the bathroom. But I haven't been aggressive about ditching the diapers. Between the holidays, then job stress, then Grey losing his job and all that came between, potty training has been on the back-burner. Even with their teachers.
To prepare for this transition, I had done some reading. There were the guidelines endorsed by the American Academy for Pediatrics. But I also picked up a book that resembled one of the ever-popular boot camps for potty training. Reading through this book, I found my anxiety start to rise. Though the author claims high degrees of success, there was a lot of judgment passed on parents who either waited until after her prescribed timeline to potty train and an underlying message about failure for both parent and child who failed to succeed at the program, mainly it being they weren't serious and didn't want to achieve this milestone.
After 4 days of being home, She-Beat is fully potty trained while He-Beat is still in diapers. If I believed the author for this boot camp book, I would classify He-Beat as a failure on the road of having serious behavior issues. And that I'm a failure as a parent. Instead, what I've been focusing on is what He-Beat has learned. That even though he is anxious about being on the potty, he now is curious about the process and has been learning how to control his bladder. That the few accidents we've had have actually been learning opportunities for him.
And that's not failure at all. It's actually the first steps in learning where if we continue to work with him and encourage him, will lead to success.
I've been thinking a lot about the author of this boot camp potty training book and her attitude as we've been going through this process. The judgment that she passes so easily on others. Sure, she's selling a product and part of that process means pushing this idea that if you follow her program to the T that success is guaranteed. But there's also an element there that speaks volumes about who she is as a person and how she views herself in the world. And though I was initially angry about this judgment, I found myself realizing how sad of a situation she's actually created for herself. That she's actually a pretty unhappy person. Why else would one be so cruel with regards to a milestone that should be empowering the next generation?
As educators, there's a big push to recognize that there are many modes of learning and tapping these requires using different approaches. Starting with simple differences like visual vs. auditory learning to more complex levels involving synthesis based on prior knowledge and discovery through exploration, we know that no two people learn the exact same way. Most interestingly and yet most terrifying, is the importance of learning through risk and failure. That failure in healthy doses actually is a far better teacher as overcoming that failure involves problem-solving and actually grasping key concepts surrounding a problem. Facing failure is scary, as we are forced to confront things we otherwise would chose to ignore. But so much good can come from it.
Despite knowing this, there's still this need to run others down following failure. Those who succeed can quickly pass judgment, often as an inherent flaw of the person facing the failure. You're stupid, you're lazy, you're paying for past behaviors or G_d/the Universe/name-your-deity doesn't believe you deserve this success. These judgments are damaging, creating doubt and promoting fear. And so there's a tendency to shy away from risk of trying something different or new instead of celebrate the courage that it took to even try.
On Saturday, during a hailstorm, an amazing double-rainbow appeared outside our window. So intense that you could see it end in the backyard of some houses not too far from where we live. Grey commented on how amazing it was to witness something like this, particularly during a moment where one could easily be pelted by ice. And yet if we had shied away from the windows, out of fear of the ice breaking them, we would have missed this.
So, we're moving forward. She-Beat is acting as a role model for her brother and He-Beat is finding himself surrounded by adults who are encouraging him on this milestone. Helping him even when he's still not entirely sure about it and celebrating the steps he's taking each day.
Because without risk there is no growth. And those who promote fear and hate are living in a terrible form of hell.
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