Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wait Matters

So I'll make this short as it's a painful post to write, and, frankly, I share it because it relates to the way we help kids deal with the complex issue of forgiveness.

I got a message yesterday that hit me straight in the gut. As I read the words, I literally felt sick. I won't reveal those words, but they were certainly straight to the point.

I had hurt someone, not just anyone, but a good friend, not intentionally, but perhaps by 2 counts of careless neglect. I accepted an invitation from a nearby friend, although a tiny voice inside whispered that perhaps I should talk to the faraway friend who might feel excluded. I then proceeded to quell that voice inside somehow and subconsciously decide there was nothing to talk about.  Why? Now this is all conjecture because I never allowed myself to think about it..but maybe it was because deep down I was afraid to face a conversation where I might have to hear that someone I care about could be hurt.

This happens all the time with kids: they exclude others without fully realizing what is happening.. and then fail or even refuse to consider how the others might feel... but more about that later.. 

Of course, this type of avoidance never goes well. Ignoring that wise little voice of intuition is never a good thing. But I did.. perhaps because I'm juggling too many balls, perhaps because I lack confidence in dealing with potential conflicts .... the reason doesn't matter. I screwed up. 

And this brings me to the what next.

I sent an apology. I tried to explain (and tried not to defend) my actions or lack thereof. And now I wait, in the gut-wrenching knowledge that I have caused another human being emotional pain, and that this person may decide to never forgive me. And I am so very sad.

And then it dawned on me: It's not in my control. I must wait.. If I keep trying to reach out, perhaps I am not honoring the other person's need for time. Ultimately, I will also have to forgive myself, whether or not the other person does.

This brings me to what we do with kids when they make a mistake that hurts another person. 

We often make them apologize, and then we also expect the offended person to accept. What if that person isn't ready to forgive? Do we help kids understand that relationships are a process and that a breach in trust just doesn't go away after the, "I'm sorry?"

Just as adults need time for processing, so do kids. Feelings are a complicated landscape, and so often we make things worse by our own need to tie things up in a nice bow and say we've taken care of it.

I don't know how to make right the wrong. And I'm an adult! Imagine how complicated it is for kids.

I do know this:
I vow to act with more intention and to listen to the sensitive soul inside me who keeps me on track.
I will practice letting go of the outcome; I cannot expect someone to forgive me, but only express my feelings of regret and hope that one day they will believe again.
I will help kids understand that the process of forgiveness is not a clean, simple, linear one and that it's okay if we don't have immediate closure.

Here's a final question for you: 
How do you help kids move on when they don't get the result they want?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

EQ Week 2014 is coming, March 10th-15th!

I strongly believe that the more we learn about emotional intelligence, the more able we are to navigate our own emotional lives as well as empower those we interact with each day.

In 2012 I participated in the very first EQ week webinars, and I was excited to learn about the wonderful work of Six Seconds. I attended their educator training the following summer and began to incorporate more social emotional lessons into my 4th grade curriculum. 

I'm excited to share: EQ WEEK 2014 -- the 3rd annual online conference with over 60 webinars - all free!!!  Speakers from ALL over the globe will share their wisdom on neuroscience, parenting, leadership, teaching -- and LIFE. Webinars are live and have limited space, but recordings are avail for a month following.  Details & signup here: 

Hope to see you (virtually) there! 

(Just an FYI: I gain nothing financially from sharing this news. I just believe in the power of EQ!) 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Civility: Are we Modeling it?

This little guy, at nearly 4 months, watches everything and has begun responding by imitating.  I'm certainly cleaning up my language and thinking of how I will do my best to be a good grandma role model ;-) 

Just back from Costco, which was a darn stupid idea on the day before Super Bowl. Getting my car  parked was a feat in itself, even though I aimed for a space in the absolute farthest lot.

As I entered the store, I paused waiting for the lady next to me to go ahead. We both smiled, saying at the same time, "Go ahead." Ok, I thought..this won't be as bad as I expected.

Halfway down the frozen aisle a kid ran by, bumping into me. I'll admit: I was a bit irritated as I had seen kids running on the previous aisle and it was crowded and a bit dangerous to have 8 year olds ducking and diving. In any case, as he blazed by, realizing that he had just hit me he stopped, looked at me, and said, "Excuse me.. sorry!" A smile crossed over my teacher face as I thought of telling his dad, down the aisle, that I appreciated his politeness. I decided, however, that much as I would welcome such a comment from a stranger, not all adults would take it the right way. I carried on, trying to get out of there as fast as possible.

Moving toward the front of the store, I rounded a curve, and nearly collided with a woman, shaking her head and frowning as I uttered, "Excuse me." We were both completely where we should be: simply navigating a shared space. For some reason, though, she could not be gracious in this negotiation. I smiled and carried on. Kill 'em with kindness, right?

Whatever, I shrugged, as I decided it was definitely time to get out of there. The checkout line: perfectly pleasant, as I chatted with the cashier and bagged my items, remembering the many years I spent working in retail and my vow to always treat others especially kindly.

The parking lot was where it hit me the hardest. Safely in my car, groceries packed, I witnessed an interchange between drivers much like the one I had with my cart in the store. A woman threw up her arms, shouted out her window at another woman who was simply coming around the corner and "in her way" for a few seconds. Wow, I thought, maybe I missed something.

But it was her next move, when she was suddenly behind me in the line of cars exiting the lot that got my attention. Because I didn't hit the gas full speed as the light changed, she swerved out into the next lane, nearly clipping my car as we rounded the turn.

SO many questions ran through my mind: Is she in a hurry to get somewhere because someone is in danger? What would rationalize such behavior: driving a car so aggressively? If she pulled up next to me, and I had a chance, would I say something? 

Of course, I must admit, that I was somewhat pleased that her impulsive move left her at the end of a slower moving line of cars. Ha! That's what she gets, I thought. I'm human, right?

Afterward, I kept thinking about how we expect kids to be polite and civil, yet we see so many examples of adults who are not modeling it. I'm sure I'm guilty too, but now, with a grandson watching, I'm sure I'll be a bit more aware of my words and actions.

Little eyes are watching.