The Two Most Important Rules

Following up with yesterday’s post, I want to speak towards managing relationships. We need relationships, we need people in our lives. We need people to laugh with, cry with, eat with, and share life with. Even if it’s because we need a paycheck to get by – someone will be writing that paycheck for you.

But, relationships shouldn’t be reduced to strategy (despite the tactics we use to manage them).

So, how do we value those relationships in an honest way? I think there are two rules that guide honesty in relationships. The two most important rules are:

  • Do onto others as you would have them do onto you (the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31), and
  • Love thy neighbor as thyself (the second commandment (Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:36-40).

From Christian theology – we are called to love and respect through compassion. I was taught that first we love, and then we do as my mother encouraged, walk in another man’s shoes (for a mile) before we begin to judge. When we walk in another’s shoes, we suffer with them, which means we are called to compassion.

We are all works in progress, but if relationships are driven by love and compassion, their authenticity would rise and our call to make the world a better place would make enormous strides.

Examples

So, those are the rules, and here are five examples: three where the rules go wrong and two where they go right.

Example 1: I can’t hear you

They complained to each other. The complained about the conditions, the compensation, the lack of understanding. They didn’t feel respected. They didn’t feel like their experience was honored. They didn’t feel like they were truly given ownership of projects they were tasked with executing. They felt like they were being treated as puppets with multiple masters. And, they didn’t like it. There were various bosses who floated through, even though some had only been there a few months.

The bottom line for these people were their complaints weren’t being heard. They had tried to go through all the proper channels, but they kept getting back to square one. Finally, they were told to just put up or shut up.

The other perspective, for the newcomer was that they were all petulant children. They were throwing tantrums in the work place, and that’s just not how things were done.

In another instance, the employees who tried to make their concerns heard found themselves looking for other work!

The result: the newcomers failed to listen. And, in the other instance, management chose to replace employees, rather than fix issues.

Example 2: I’m smarter than you

He had turned to her for advice. She had been in an important role longer than he, and he needed to hear her story. He was amazed at how much she did, how much she controlled, and with such few resources. The first few months of their relationship, he was in awe of her expertise.

Something changed, and he realized that maybe he grasped things better. Maybe he had more training around their shared interests. Maybe he really did have more experience than he gave himself credit for. The bottom line was that he no longer needed, nor did he want, her advice. The irony was that he was now in a position to influence others whether or not she still had a job.

The result: because he no longer needed her advice, he diminished her expertise and worth and saw her as a disposable employee.

Example 3: Teammate not pulling their weight

She wouldn’t pick up her things. She didn’t attend mandatory work parties. She didn’t communicate with the other members that she had a need. The bottom line was that she was a part of the team, but she was not pulling her weight. They had all agreed to do a certain amount of work, and that work wasn’t forthcoming from her, for months. To the point that her lack of work was becoming a burden on other members.

Another member said, “Someone needs to have an uncomfortable conversation with her, and I’m not sure how that should happen.” To which the reply was, “With compassion.”

The result: shock at the suggestion of yielding to compassion to lead a conversation. The summation: compassion is so far from our thinking that we jump to quitting relationships, and not suffering with someone and building stronger relationships.

Example 4: Compassion in coaching

As a parent, we have a lot of kids DVDs floating through our house, on loan from the library. A recent trend was a slew of Bob the Builder videos. In one video, Lofty the crane’s fear of heights yield crippling results. Instead of switching him out for a better crane, Bob compassionately works through Lofty’s fears to help him be better.

The result: Lofty learned how to overcome his fears, and Bob strengthened his team through compassion. The summation: Bob chose to make a “good employee” out of Lofty by working with him. This helped Bob have a stronger, more loyal team.

Example 5: Listen, please

Last month I read that empathy careers are on the rise. The article summarized that with our emphasis on digital communication, we are losing our face-to-face connections. As such, we are supplementing with therapists of all shapes (massage, physical, psychological) to bartenders and fitness coaches. So much so that these “empathy careers” are expected to be 20% of the jobs by 2020.

The result: We aren’t being listened to so we’re creating a market of listening.

(More on empathy in firms of endearment and the benefits to a company.)

In Short…

The disheartening realization from examples one through three is that they happen daily. We are so caught up in our daily lives that we forget as leaders we have the power to make tough relationships, great; or turn sour, good relationships. In the busy-ness of it all, we are relegated to low hanging fruit. And, that means the low-hanging fruit of relationships – relationships that are easy, and without conflict. Relationships, leading with compassion and love take time, and we don’t budget that necessary time into our task lists. So, relationships suffer, and then we wonder why we don’t succeed in our goals.

I would like to challenge you, dear reader, to listen more and lead with compassion when giving advice – especially if it’s how to manage a project. We would all be served to lead with curiosity instead of simply reminding people of where they went wrong, how we’re smarter than them, and more mature – which means we don’t have to listen.

The Last Post of the Year

Levi & Mommy
Levi & Mommy after a soccer game in September.

And, upon us, finally, is the last night of the year. I have never been more thankful for a year to end. 2012 started out okay, but quickly eroded into an emotional roller-coaster of a year.

  • A friend was scared she had a dangerous form of cancer
  • Then she found out she didn’t
  • A friend’s close family member died
  • Another got pregnant
  • My husband found out he had a cyst in his head
  • Then we found out it was fluid filled and likely benign
  • My nephew couldn’t breathe and got really sick
  • Then he got 6 operations and is now a smiley chipper baby with a tracheostomy
  • Work got needed relief that plummeted into micro managing hell
  • Someone had a baby
  • Someone else had a baby
  • Someone else got pregnant and is carrying baby to full term
  • Friends lost their jobs
  • Friends couldn’t find jobs
  • A friend got a really cool job
  • Someone got divorced, continues to fight with their partner, is looking to separate from their spouse
  • Someone celebrated a 10 YEAR togetherness anniversary
  • Someone finally got married after being together over 10 years
  • Someone bought a house, a dream house
  • Then the porch caught on fire
  • Which forced them to a needed vacation and upon return a more or less fixed porch
  • Another family member got injured
  • Another family member was hospitalized
  • People died
  • People lived

And now, the year is ending. In my 34 years on this earth, I do not recall such a chaotic year. Maybe we can really claim that we survived the misnomer of a Mayan Apocalypse. So much chaos propelling us into a constant state of stress. Stress is bad for our health – where is our balance? I just want to write about this drama and ponder it to learn from it and then move on! I want to stop putting out fires and live in the planful Quadrant II where we can plan for and make our dreams come true.

This year, I am putting to bed the “postaday2012”. Stubbornly, I will resume in 2013 with a post-a-day, knowing I would rather do a post-a-week of quality ponderings. But, I also know I do better when I write every damned day, so stubbornly I will go.

2013 has to be awesome, and I am declaring it so. No matter what happens, it is going to be an awesome year! If I have to psyche myself up to believe that the worst will be the best – I will force this damned-able positive attitude on everyone and everything. Enough of 2012. Enough of 2007. Onward  we go for another five (or more) years of finding balance in the chaos.

Here’s to hoping for positive change. Here’s to toasting a new era of calm, patience, compassion. Here’s to a shift in our paradigms where we let individual freedoms ring free and true while supporting our world-wide community needs.

Here’s to a brand spankin’ new year.

Happy New Year.

Keeping Up with the Jones’

Generally, when we consider the phrase “Keeping up with the Jones” we consider monetary accomplishments. Do we have the right car? Are we wearing the right clothes? Do we have the right house? And, we compare that to our neighbor. Sometimes “neighbor” is a colleague, an actual neighbor, or a family member. The “Jones” is simply a person with whom we compare ourselves to in order to measure our status and quantify our self-worth.

Okay, but what if we measure ourselves in other ways. Such as presuming to act like a better person or take care of something or someone better than the proverbial Jones? How often does that get discussed? How often to we consider how harmful that level of comparison is?

I have a few thoughts around this subject and it stemmed from a few incidents observed from afar and acted upon by someone close to me. First, I think of this comparing and how detrimental it is to our own psyches. And, then, I consider the ten commandments — thy shall not covet thy neighbor’s things. Again, the latter reinforces the prominent view of “Keeping Up with the Jones'”. We shouldn’t covet their cars, house, finery. But, I really do think there is an underlying element that forces us to look inside and simply not compare – even our actions – to our neighbors.

By compare, I make that loose. In this piece, I am going to be judging the actions of another while condoning how they have judged others. I want this to be recognized up front to highlight the fine line in which I am hoping to initiate a discussion on our proper decorum, how we set examples for each other, and how we can live in a more compassionate world.

So, the incident. Someone close to me has a child who need special attention in order to properly care for him. This individual was caring for her child in a public place. In this place, she witnessed another mother remain engrossed in a minor task, thereby ignoring her own child. This other mother’s child, while the mother’s back was turned, fell, hard on a hard surface whilst completing a task that was not recommended. So, the kiddo was doing something she shouldn’t have been. The mother wasn’t watching the kiddo. The mother was window shopping or browsing for something, focused only on herself and not her child. This person close to me, publicly, chided this mother for her carelessness and blamed the mother  entirely, for the child falling and presumably hurting herself.

Should the mother have been paying closer attention to her child? Probably. But, this individual close to me should not have chided this mother so. She was not the mother. She only saw, from a distance, and only got a fragment of the story. I’ve acted in a protective manner before for my own son, but with his recent behavior at school, I am being served my own slice of humble pie. It doesn’t take long for the tables to turn. I really wanted this individual close to me to go to a place of compassion for the other mother instead of a place of judgement.

This individual has done it a second time, publicly questioning all other parents and how they care for their own children after being given a compliment by a health care professional on the care of her own. That’s great that she’s able to keep her own child healthy and clean – but to question the motives and intent of parents who don’t (seem to) – I find it far-reaching and shallow. I am ashamed of this individual. I cannot believe this individual is close to me and would decry other parents and their presumed inability to take care of their own children without first seeking their stories. This individual is not seeking first to understand, rather seeking first to self-congratulate and then judge.

And, now, she’s pissed at me because I told her so. I told her I was judging her both publicly (wrong on my part… but it was reactionary public to public forum) and privately. And, I tried to tell her why. She’s not open to criticism. She rarely is. She’s not open to hearing for growth. She rarely is. And, all that makes me sad.

This individual used to think much more compassionately and lovingly than she demonstrates now. She used to force me to think of the other, and that’s changed. And, now I worry for her. I am worried that she’ll get her just desserts and it won’t be pretty. Sure, she has to walk her own path, but I’d like to believe that we’re in this together somehow and should be able to support each other along the way. It’s never easy when someone calls us out on our own bullshit, so how do we individually handle it?

Apparently, I don’t handle it well at all. All in an effort to lamely work more compassionately so our children can live in a more compassionate, understanding world, where measuring ourselves against another’s success or failure isn’t even a part of the discussion.

When the Best Isn’t Good Enough

Levi's Lego Dinosaur
Levi shows off his just-put-together Lego Dinosaur Christmas present.

It all sounded like gibberish. We sat there for an hour, asking barely four questions, and all I heard was gibberish. Afterwards, Peter commented that it sounded like a recitation of academic training… all talk, no substance. I did hear a few points: 1) Levi is borderline AD(H)D, 2) He scores low in “Executive Function” which could lend itself to the spiraled outbursts we’ve met with his school about, and 3) we could consider occupational therapy to give us coping techniques for these impulse control issues.

We sat there for an hour. This was our third (3 of 3) appointment. The last of the two parent visits that sandwiched the Levi observation where he was tested. Peter and I heard the words that were spoken to us, but we were hardly able to make sense of them. Levi is a bright kid who has struggles with spacial motor skills and impulse control. After an hour of reciting and rehashing the outcomes of the testing, I think this is what we were supposed to learn. I was able to recap three-fourths of the way into the appointment which was followed by more recitations… and when my clarifying question, which in summary is really: Are we making a mountain of a molehill? But I worded something to the extent of – given how boys develop normally and what we expect them to learn over the course of a lifetime, is this something to be worried about or are systems not set up to deal with average boy behavior? This query was answered with, “We’re running out of time. If you have more questions, we should schedule a follow-up appointment.”

Some history: The Wonders of Wang & Levi Behavior.

Nothing has persuaded me that my assessment is incorrect. My assessment is that we are putting boys (kids, really) in a system that sets them up for failure. The assessment noted how Levi was focused on the things he wanted to do but not on the things he didn’t. So, if he didn’t want to remember something, he scored poorly on it. It was clear, while we observed, that he didn’t see the point of the exercise. He wasn’t told he was being tested. For all he rationalized, it could have been a series of games. Now, we find out he scored poorly on short-term memory and some motor skills of drawing shapes. He didn’t draw his triangle correctly – at all, but got the Union Jack pretty close to spot on. I know adults who couldn’t get the Union Jack to line up, and if they weren’t paying attention, they wouldn’t have been able to get the triangle. The point, as it was explained to us, is that he doesn’t focus when he’s supposed to be focusing.

I’ve done a lot of self-help book reading this last year. In part to get a better understanding of myself and those around me. In part, too, to get some ideas on how to do things like best manage my time. What we were being told, then, is that Levi doesn’t want to focus in Quadrant II. He wants to play in Quadrant I (urgent but not important) or III (not important and not urgent). Regardless, it’s the fun stuff. Other books I’ve read encourage, without specifically stating, that we should all work in a variation of Quadrant III – play to your strengths so it’s all fun. (If it’s your job, though, it’d probably be Quadrant II (important, but not urgent). So, my other question is: why aren’t schools set up to play to kids strengths?

I queried – the actions that have brought us here have happened at school. The answer I received was that we should be mitigating these things at home. But, the problem is, when Levi plays with friends or is at home – he doesn’t hit. He has only hit other kids at school. I’m perplexed on how I was to plan for this situation, when he knows he is not supposed to hit and we have no real option for role-playing when we didn’t know this situation would happen.

Naturally, my mother wasn’t home when I called her after we got home. But, she did call me back an hour later. She asked me, “Is the place you’re going – is it the best?” I answered, “Yes.” Because it is. It gets rave reviews. A friend is taking her child there and loves the entire center. The behaviorist recommended it. The pediatrician acknowledged it’s very good. So, why wouldn’t the best be good enough?

Because sometimes the best, reflected my mother, sometimes the best isn’t looking out for your own best interests rather their own. She recapped with a story of a local rehabilitation facility that, while touted as the best, was only interested in rote mechanics before they let patients go. It didn’t matter if the patients were fully rehabilitated – or not. As long as the check boxes were checked, they were let go.

So, my mother astutely recommended we look for not the best. She has encouraged we look for a real human who is interested in listening to our stories. A real human. A real human who can listen and is more focused on the goal of patient healing rather than furnishing an office or having a great lifestyle (which this young doctor told us, in appointment one, was one of the perks of his job).

Yes, mom, sometimes the best really isn’t good enough. I have a message out to the pediatrician. Maybe he has some recommendations of “not the best.”

Best Practices

I guess not everyone was fortunate enough to have focused leaders early in their career. Here are some best practices I’ve taken for granted.

  • The “customer” is always right.
    • It’s important to loosely define “customer”
    • Customers are (this is not an exhaustive list):
      • Employees,
      • Clients,
      • Buyers,
      • Donors,
      • Volunteers,
      • Bosses, or
      • Contractors.
    • Always assume every encounter is with a customer because you don’t want to be wrong at the wrong moment.
  • Follow the chain of command
    • Have a gripe with a co-worker? Don’t go over their head.
    • Always go first to the person with whom you have a complaint
  • Mind your Ps & Qs
    • I still don’t know what the P or Q stands for but the gist is – have good manners because
    • You attract more flies to honey than vinegar, and in this case
      • Everyone with whom you interact is a fly, and you want more flies on your side.
  • Praise publicly
  • Admonish privately
  • Smile, it releases endorphins
  • Be consistent with your moral values
  • Give yourself an out
    • Every work situation can be stressful… so where are your sacred places to keep yourself in check?

More to add later. What are some “best practices” you’ve found?

Just Quit

Airport Visit
Peter, Michelle, Betsy, and Levi pose after an impromptu visit at PDX.

Michigan has become the 24th “Right to Work” state. Admittedly, I only know a little about the concept. What I see, though, seems more like a “Right to Work Under the Man’s Rules” instead of our own.

It seems as if unions, fair pay, fair working conditions, and fair standards are being rolled back. It seems as if we are seeing further fighting of “us” against “them”. The workers against management in another draw, and this time management is winning.

So, I wonder what would happen if all these workers just quit. What would happen if the police force ceded their “right to work” and stopped patrolling traffic accidents and people who’ve gone off the edge? What would happen if nurses ceded their “right to work” and stopped mending wounds, healing the sick, and comforting the dying? What would happen if the miners ceded their “right to work” and stopped digging for {clean} coal? What would happen if bus drivers ceded their “right to work” and stopped driving buses and trains? What would happen if fire fighters ceded their “right to work” and stopped rescuing cats and homes from perilous accidents?

What would happen if geographers mapped out the top 1% for every city and all these workers stopped working for them?

I want to know what it will take for people to realize their own power. We do the work. Yes, I have aspirations of being the mastermind of some interesting organization, but what I hope I realize and continue to realize is that we all need each other.

A friend noted, once, that she believes there is a job for everyone out there. There are people interested in running hotels, feeding people (rich and poor), tending to the sick and dying, fixing the environment, cleaning up our waste, planting and growing things… it takes all kinds to make our world run, so why do we divvy up “importance” of jobs by how much paper one pushes or by how many people are below a person?

When will we realize our power? When will we realize our power is not within Wall Street or faulty aspirations of becoming über rich? When will we realize our power lies within. We need to seize it. Stand up for it, and not take this anymore.

I have a right to work. I have a right to organize. I have a right to state my opinions. And, you have a right to walk away. Now, let’s all walk together and make this world the place we want it to be.

We want safe schools and neighborhoods for our kids where they can learn how to fend for themselves in controlled environments. We want places where they can breathe clean air, have safe healthy food to eat, and access to safe, stable, and affordable housing. We want our children to realize their potential so they can be all that they can be… and if we do want those things, we have to pave the way for them. It starts now. It started yesterday. It started 100 years ago.

It is time to quit second guessing. It is time to quit playing second fiddle to pipe dreams of non-existence. It is time to stand up for what we know is right.

We deserve better. Our children deserve better. Our future deserves better.

Our time is now.

The Arrogant Little Pissant

You know who it is. This person is younger than you. This person has complex, yet little life experience to draw from. This person thinks they know everything.

I was this person 15 years ago. Some might argue that I’m still that person, though the verbal validation I receive indicates otherwise.

Today, this person began my day by demanding why something wasn’t the way she deemed. It wasn’t her version of correct.

  1. “Correct” was never defined to me.
  2. It wasn’t explicit in the piece with which we were working.
  3. It wasn’t clear on the data source.
  4. It wasn’t defined on the data source.
  5. No questions were asked, to me, on how to make it correct.
  6. It wasn’t caught in the numerous final proofs we received and reviewed.
  7. She booked a vacation in the midst of the process.
  8. There was no accountability to her role.

In her demanding to know why something wasn’t correct, she was blaming. I inferred she was blaming me because I was the last person to lay hands on this project.

I am coming from two days of being sick from the stomach flu, after a weekend. So, I’ve been out of work for four days. My first encounter back to work is this arrogant little pissant demanding to know why I’ve ruined her career. 

I said, “Are you playing the blame game? Because if so, take it someplace else.”

She stormed off.

This person is 11 years younger than me.

I understand now, a decade later why people gave me certain looks when I was in my 20s. If I had known the life experience I would gain from 25-30 on top of the already complex life experience I had already gained in the first two decades of my life, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me.

I suppose I was coming off the immortality of my teens, the confusion of not knowing what my calling is, the uncomfortableness of being unable to find my place in life when so many had said I should know what I was going to do. All this coupled with being bright, learned, and ambitious. I understood many best practices and had a good value system. So, I could recognize fraud when it was said to be employed but wasn’t. I had a drive for  perfection and the desire to learn under the tutelage of experts. But, those experts were (still are!) in short supply. I kept working for one underpaid entrepreneur after another. Sure, there is an elegance in figuring things out as you go — but the brilliance of the human race is that we should build on the shoulders of giants. We do ourselves a disservice when we fail to find or capitalize on those giants’ energy. All that frustration and knowledge came up against my immaturity and certainly made me an arrogant little pissant.

Time tempered my fire and fueled more understanding. Sorrow strengthened my compassion, and I learned. Life helped me reinforce my strengths of deliberation and being able to look at the big picture which has subsided my desire to be that arrogant little pissant. I try to be the first to admit I made a mistake, but I will make sure it’s mine first. (Credit due, where credit is due. It goes both ways.) I always knew and recognized my elders were wise. But, my desire to learn from them has increased with age. I have more respect for the necessity of inter-generational exchanges.

I suppose my mother, along with those life experiences, was the respected person in my life who helped me temper the arrogant pissant in me. My quandary this morning was that I wanted to be able to tell this girl what she needed to do. Yet, I recognized she would not listen as something has changed over the months and her respect for me has been lost. I don’t really care if I ever receive that respect back, as I received much validation just today that I have been steady in my own goals in being professional. I was hoping a new colleague could provide the leadership that this young one needs, but the fire in which she’s been thrown hasn’t lent itself to that.

The fact is we do work in a toxic environment and being graceful is something we all struggle with. So, I set my boundary, and she obeyed, and now I write. I tried not to let the instance rile me up to much so that I could get through the next necessary tasks, as life doesn’t stop and it certainly keeps going.

But, I want feedback. What do you do when you meet an immature young adult who thinks they know everything? How do you deal with the arrogant pissants in your life?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday Free Write

Levi's Rainbow
Levi and his class painted rainbows recently. Levi’s art has improved so much over last year.

When I was in high school, taking Creative Writing, we would do free writes, for two minutes, at the beginning of every class. Mrs. Gress posted a question on the board and we had to spend two minutes, without stopping, and just write. One of my favorite topics involved what type of tattoo you would get. Not, if you’d get a tattoo, but if you were forced into a tattoo what would you get. I chose a rose, on my ankle. When I finally got my first (and only) tattoo, it was a rose, on my left shoulder-blade.

But, the idea behind the writing was the butt-to-chair mentality  Just do it. Don’t over think it. Let the words spill out across the page. In modern times, it’s let the words spill out across the screen.

Okay, that was good for maybe a minute of writing. I had to walk away, start the tea, put the laundry in the dryer, and well – anything to get warm.

It’s December 2nd. Naturally, it’s raining. The large rainclouds have bathed the entire Pacific Northwest in green. It’s actually surprising that we’ve had as much sun (two mornings in a row!) as we’ve had.

Now I have tea, to warm my hands.

I have nothing that seems significant to write (see the 15 minute post about why). So, instead, I will lament on these silly old computers I keep using for personal and work. This laptop, for example, is likely 5 years old. The CD Player doesn’t recognize discs, so I can’t upgrade the software, which has been getting buggy. The hard drive has had a few check-error messages — but unfortunately, I can’t afford my dream (13″ Macbook Pro, post 2009). I long for the day when my phone and my personal computing device will talk to each other in a way that things made by the same manufacturer should.

Tomorrow, the work week begins again. There were some things I should have done two weeks ago but ran out of time. Now, I’m running out of time to secure these things. I have difficulty asking for help. I’m not sure why. Partly, everyone else is busy. Partly, I forget and work on certain priorities. Then, over the weekend, I’m reminded of these other things. I am dissatisfied with work — not the organization’s goals, rather my pay scale and my job title. I want $10,000 per year more than what I make. Yet, I don’t have a good understanding of what the powers that be would expect. When I hear about other salaries and responsibilities, I reasonably know that what I am asking isn’t unreasonable – but I lack the confidence to … ask.

Holidays are coming up. This year, we’re doing a name exchange with the cousins. The cousins being my nieces and nephews. Levi drew his cousin Owen’s name. We have the gifts purchased. Now we need to wrap and send. I have a book for my mother that I need to send off. And, lastly, just figuring out what we’ll get Levi and each other. I’d like my husband to get an iPhone. However, we don’t have the ready funds and I’m not ready to hear him complain about an “over priced piece of junk” even though we both know he covets it.

And, here we go. Over 550 words. I shall close. Hopefully this re-pattern of writing will get the more thought-provoking phrases rolling.

Enhanced by Zemanta

15 Minutes

I have 15 minutes before I’m off onto the next thing. I am forcing myself to sit here for 15 minutes (well, maybe only 11) and simply write. There is so much going on, and the introvert in me needs this constant refresh time. But, I am having such (for over 18 months now) a hard time keeping the bum to the chair writing…

Sometimes things are too personal. I don’t want to write about family goings ons because I do keep my blog public, and some things are meant to be private. Sometimes things are too tenuous. There are a lot of changes going on in the spheres in which I operate. Sometimes it’s just not right it to broadcast it to the world. I’ve anonymized posts before, and even though I don’t remember all the specifics when I reread those posts months later, it takes a lot of effort in order to be able to do that. It takes an effort to filter out the nuance and get to the heart of the matter in order that I may dissect the understanding. Given all the roles I play, sometimes that takes too much energy and my refresh time is simply zoning out in front of the Boob Tube, not thinking about all the places where my interests lie.

That was 2 minutes worth of writing. Now what?

So, it’s that time of year again. Cold season. It’s interesting having a son whose birthday is in the same month as mine. In part, it’s my norm. My mother and I share the same birth-month. In fact, my son and my mom’s birthday are a mere 3 days a part! So, if the Giselle institute’s theories and patterns of equilibrium and disequilibrium follow through to adulthood, Levi and I both fall into disequilibrium in the fall months. It seems àpropos that disequilibrium would coincide with cold season.

Thus far, I’ve been able to keep the cold at bay with periodic trickles of some naturopathic herbs that are supposed to boost the immune system. Yet, the scratchy throat persists. Thankful that our big event didn’t happen this year, no matter how it has affected cash flow. That means less stress for me in dealing with these other things that are going on.

Overall, 2012 can suck it. It’s not that every day is a bad day. But, this roller coaster of a year has been … well a roller coaster. I want more status quo. If the Mayan Calendar meant a rough year, I can’t wait for this world to end. I hope it doesn’t mean Apocalypse  rather change. Astrologists might argue that this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius .. perhaps we head further into the age of science and reason which could mean equilibrium for all.

Okay… that was… 7 minutes. All done, regardless of missing my 15 minute mark. I now have to get my things together, grab my coat, turn the lights off, order pizza, get the kid, and head off to the next meeting. Now, we chat about diversity – what it means and how to educate others about it.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

It’s happening again. That is, we’re having troubles at school. I have lost count, now, how many times we’ve interacted with the principal and his kindergarten teacher over behavior. The behavior started out as not sitting still and not keeping his hands to himself. The behavior progressed to hitting, PUNCHING and HITTING classmates. It sounds like it’s impulse control or acting out instead of using his words when he’s mad or frustrated. It sounds like it’s developmental. Regardless, no one is really happy with the situation, and we’ve called in the professionals.

It’s all matching up with what I’ve read. It’s like I’m living the labeling theory but for school administrators instead of for my son.

Let’s understand one thing first. Hitting and not controlling aggressive behavior is unacceptable.

Let’s get another thing straight. Sequestration or punishment without assessing triggers is equally unacceptable.

Levi has gone from play based learning to rigorous academia, wildly criticized at being a mismatch for boys. And it is especially frustrating for our kinetic learner. When he’s bored and uninterested in a subject, he acts out. The behavior is treated with sequestration or alone time with an adult. It gives him attention and reinforces the bad behavior.

The first time we were called, like last year when we were told our son did these terrible acts, our first thought was, “That’s not our son!” Last year Levi’s offenses included choking two boys and repeatedly locking himself in the bathroom. Our popular boy turned into the new kid, and he wasn’t adjusting well and the teachers didn’t know what to do. It was also unclear what they wanted from us. We are at work when these incidents occur. We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face at home, but this stuff is happening at school. So, what about the environment is enabling this behavior?

Levi turned around at the half-year mark, around his 5th birthday (according to Gesell, going from disequilibrium into equilibrium). The rest of the year was fine.

Now, we are in disequilibrium again. Again, we’re at a new school. And, again, he’s acting out. Our little boy, who used to be the receiver of aggressive acts, is now being witnessed hitting another boy with a plastic bowling pin and punching his classmates when frustrated.

A friend said to me, “Michelle, this screams environment.”

I know. I know it does. But, we can’t afford the $10,000 a year tuition (for NINE months no less) at the nearest Montessori. It’s amazing how limited our educational opportunities are given how abundant they feel in this metro area of more than 2 million people.

(At the same time, my boss has the audacity to state that I don’t know stress. Admittedly, before I told him what was going on. But, seriously.)

So, why is our son, now in his third school NOT using his words when he knows he should? Why is he taking his friend’s arm to hit another friend when he’s bored in music or Spanish? Why is he losing interest in PE at the point when the other kids finally get the game, then going off to make his own rules and disrupting the natural order the teacher (and students?) want?

Recently, I had a conversation with a sustainability specialist. He got into sustainability after spending years in behavioral change. He mentioned this story after I admitted I want gentle pushes, mocking servant leadership, to make a green society because I have found that behavior change is too hard. He said to me that he has found the same. Instead of bending someone’s stubborn behavior, we have to make the environment work for what we are asking. So, if we’re asking people to recycle instead of throw things away, we need to put the recycling next to the trash, not down the hall.

To find out how we put the good behavior choices next to my son, we have hired an behaviorist  The behaviorist was referred to me by my chiropractor. (The one who diagnosed my thyroid problems pre-blood tests.) The first thing the behaviorist suggested was taking Red Dye out of our son’s diet. So, we did. Then, he had the best three days of the year. This was followed by Gummy Bear treats and two more aggressive days, which while unfortunate proved to my husband why we are calling in the experts.

The first observation date is scheduled for November 8th. I am concerned that we are going to drop between $400 and $2,000 to teach teachers and administrators about reasonable expectations. Yes, I recognize it’s all for the greater good, but it’s no less frustrating.

Onward, we go.