The day my mom stood up for me
They say we remember things better if it was associated with a high emotional and sensory load. If you think back about your earliest memories, isn’t it amazing that you can remember such vivid detail and yet, if I ask you what you had for lunch last week Wednesday, you cannot seem to recall? Like me, you would probably only have a handful of memories from before you were three.
My childhood memory
The memory I want to share with you today happened in grade 1, I was six years old and just started school. I recently went for Tomatis testing because one of my clients is a qualified therapist. She insisted that I try it out, and so I did. One of the questions she asked me after testing was if going to school was a traumatic experience for me. If you ask me to dig deeper, honestly, I loved school. I loved friends, I loved learning and I loved most of my teachers. But because she asked that question (don’t you just hate it when they do?) my subconscious mind started looking for answers. My conclusion was that I was still happy but I do have a few memories that kind-of weren’t.
My preschool was the best preschool I can imagine, with loving teachers and friends. No complaints. I started grade one, or Sub A, as it was called back then. Our stationery was stacked in a metal tin on our desks, mine fell – you can imagine the noise that made! The teacher commented and I picked it up, and class commenced. BANG!!! It fell again, now clearly irritated, the teacher scolded me, proclaiming my incompetence and what a fool I was. This was fine with me, I don’t care too much about words. But if there is one thing that has been part of me since I was born, it would be fairness. I tried explaining that I wasn’t responsible for dropping the tin. The boy, sitting in front of me turned around to tell me something and his elbow accidently pushed it off my desk. She ignored it flat and still gave me punishment. I can’t remember much detail as to what happened the rest of that day, but somehow, my mom got the story out of me and guess what? My mom was not afraid of any teacher. She was not afraid of standing up for her children and fighting for what is right. She met with the teacher and told her to apologize for her error, which the teacher then did. I felt empowered and at this early stage when my mom was still my world- I was afraid of no one. I knew if the teacher was unfair towards me again I can tell my mom and she will sort her out. My mom was the “biggest”, “bestest”, “strongest” and she had MY back.
It happened again
Another vivid memory... I remember the day my good friend and I auditioned for the school choir. We did everything together. This was in grade 2 and I wasn’t selected. Kids are insensitive, I'm sure I was too. I remember that it was an assumption that you cannot sing if you did not get selected. My mom knew what she was talking about and when asking the teacher why I wasn’t selected, the teacher replied that my voice was too deep and it did not fit in. My mom accepted it and enrolled me for eisteddfod. I got an A++ on the day and the judge noted that she “loved my deep voice”. So instead of believing the lie that I do not sing well, my mom knew my talents, encouraged me and proved that I am A++ standard. I still sing today.
As a new mom, I often think, I may “label” my child if I interfere or upset the teacher and create bad vibes that may negatively interfere with my Childs’ experience in school. But still, I have this urge to open my mouth and just speak out. Should I man-up or let them fight their own battles?
Let your child fight their own battles
The other side of this story is not so pretty. I had the opportunity of being close to someone whose parents chose the second option. From early days, they decided she should stand up for herself and fight her own battles. If she complained about something that happened in school they comforted her and said to forgive and forget, or understand that persons' point of view etc or just made it off as a minor issue. Very diplomatic I guess. Now, many years later, this friend still has a very hard time standing up to “authority” and voicing their opinion. All she learned was how to effectively operate below the radar. She has so much wisdom, knowledge, and insight to share, but because no one ever had her back- she carries that emotion and fear with her still at the age of 30. This means she is extremely effective in interviews where her opinion is asked, but once employed she disappears in the day to day activities when her opinion is needed but not asked. If an employer does not go out of their way to sit her down and ask, they will never know and experience her true value. Standing up for herself is an extreme effort, not standing up creates frustration, it results in her feeling that colleagues around her are stupid (lack intellect and insight) and passive aggression starts taking its toll.
Seeing both sides of the story I pray for the insight to know how to handle conflict situations FOR my child. To let my child feel empowered and let her know that I will always have her back. I can only hope to have the courage and wisdom to stand up and that through this she will learn how to do it for herself. Adults can be bullies too.
I encourage you to stand up for your child, if you don’t do it, no one will!
As for therapists- be sure you leave your clients with the right questions:) How about what did you love about school or how did you find going to school? There is way more positive energy and after effects in that question:)
ps. Thank you, mom!