Sunday, November 10, 2013

Teach me to fall... part two.

Teach me to fall, part two.

Remember how romantically I just described our homeschooling?  I'm not trying to be deceptive or misleading.  I really did mean all that I wrote.  But you should know, the day I posted that, I was seriously wondering how we were going to continue homeschooling because the spontaneity and delight I portrayed had been replaced by pressure, arguments and intense fear of failure.  I should clarify that all of that belonged to me, not the children.  I deliberately posted that blog when I did because I needed to see what I needed to learn.

As a homeschooler, I wasn't just wobbling, I was flailing.  Screaming.  Dreading.  Feeling myself losing control.  Not knowing what I could do, or how much pain I would be in, or how scary it would be as the world blurred and spiraled out of perspective.

And so I read my post... and let myself fall.

I have a worse fear of failure than my children, and I am enough of a hypocrite to try and teach them not to identify themselves with how well their achievements compare to the rest of the world.  I do want them to give their best efforts to anything purposeful, and I do know they are kids and will cut any corners they can find or fabricate.  I know after we hit our stride schooling, I tried steering and pedaling and balancing all at the same time, and not only did I get off to a great start with giddy momentum, but also I found the wall coming toward me at terrifying speed.

Rather than spend any more energy trying to be superhuman and turn upright what was already too skewed to go forward, I embraced the fall.  I said out loud that I can't.  I told three of my friends, and my husband, that I'm failing, and I need to stop.  Not "help me stay up" or "keep me from falling," but I need to stop.  Surprisingly, I've never done that.  My character is the type to keep trying to do what I normally do long after disaster has rocked everything.  If I keep trying, I won't fail.

So I stopped, and let myself fall.  "I can't do this" went from a warning (hey, you'd better help me now or else I can't continue!) to a statement in the present moment.

And just like bike camp... everyone cheered for me.  Everyone was behind me, helping me stand up and brush off, to assess the damage, and to begin again.

And... like most beginning bike falls... there was no damage.  My imagination had everything in flames, but it was perfectly fine.  A couple of scuffs, but only if you looked closely.

Likewise, I was safe.  I wasn't broken.  I wasn't bleeding.  I wasn't even crying.  I had all my teeth.

Nobody was scolding me.  Nobody was laughing at me.  And, nobody was worried about me, either.  (In my life, I worry more when other people worry about me.  I am usually pretty confident --- read that as: headstrong --- so I don't worry by myself, but if my parents worried about me, I knew something was really wrong).

My friends answered me, explained to me about my questions, and helped me figuratively wheel my bike back.  I really hadn't gone far off the path... just a few steps, actually.  Funny how perspective stretches when I fear falling.

I won't keep you in suspense.  We are still homeschooling.  That was never in jeopardy.  We are using the same curriculum.  We have made a few changes to help with the circumstances that have popped up and made things difficult.  I have been reassured that I do not need to pedal fast to keep up or finish at some arbitrary time.  I am aware that I wobble when I overthink my technique or worry needlessly about my pace.  Yes, biking has its purposes and benefits, but the bigger lesson is: I will reap all those benefits whether or not I enjoy the ride.  I can get there sweating and fretting, with the goal glued to the front of my mind through tunnel vision and rigid discipline... or, I can get there more slowly, allowing myself delights, dalliances, observations and images along the way.

Lesson learned.

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