We live in a fast paced world with a lot on our minds. Teachers, parents, even kids have so much to think about in a day that, out of necessity and habit, we tend to focus on the macro rather than the micro.
The thing is, the issues we anguish over most can be impacted dramatically, not with huge sweeping change, but with finer, more nuanced adjustments. Actually, this is exactly what is needed … to blink hard a couple of times and try to see the small pieces of the big picture. The pixels of life, if you will.
I have been hearing the same set of concerns about one of our kids for some time now….this child just can’t seem to make meaningful and sustained connections, has brash, confrontational behavior which tends to alienate rather than attract. In the midst of these patterns of interaction, this child is sad and perplexed by the situation, wishing for the same connections and friendships others are enjoying.
We have been trying all kinds of approaches, mostly focused on helping her become a more approachable and appealing friend – soften the edges, tone down the intensity, gather the overt actions…..frequently to limited sustained benefit. We were trying to make her respond to her life experiences in a way that was not authentic to her feelings rather than looking at how we could effect that experience so she would have a different and hopefully more positive result.
As so often happens, one person saw the picture a little differently than the rest of us. This teacher could see beyond or behind the obvious difficulties. When she shared her thoughts with the rest of us it was so simple and so clear. How did we all miss it?! When what amounted to fairly minor adjustments were made to routine and approach, some very positive and amazing changes were the near immediate result.
Very nice you might say….and it is. But the bigger point is how a gentle and constant presence creates a safe and trusting environment for success. Everyone in the equation was able to find their way to an ever stronger confidence and competence. The final point that begs being remembered is that, as is almost always the case, it was a collective effort. It’s humbling and freeing to know we don’t have to have all the answers…because we rarely do!
“We can do only small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa