I Hate Typing and Other Epic Meltdowns
Today, my son, who is currently learning typing while doing virtual school full-time, lost his sh*t. He yelled, “I hate typing” at his laptop, threw himself to the ground, and had an Emmy-worthy meltdown. I have three kids, in kindergarten, second, and second grades, and it’s a daily occurrence. Once a day, one of them hits their wall.
Last night, on our dog walk, I asked my husband, Do you think remote learning ruins kids in general or just our kids? And, do you think sending them is better or worse?
All of their teachers are new this year, trained explicitly in remote learning, which means that this semester is exponentially better than the spring semester, but still not ideal. It’s too much screen time, too many tech challenges, and requires too much parental supervision. It’s what we signed up for, but still not ideal.
One of the things that I’m desperate to teach our children is grit. Grit is passion + perseverance. Grit will help. Encountering obstacles is inevitable. How we respond makes all the difference.
In the last 40-something years, I have run head-first into brick walls that knocked me on my a$$. And I can’t recall a time when I thought this will be the thing that breaks me. I’ve thought this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve thought I need someone way smarter or well-versed than me to help me figure this out. I’ve thought, please God, let me survive this.
But, I’ve always been a figureoutable get up and try again kind of girl. Thanks, MF. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Teaching it, however, is another ballgame. How do you tell your kids, quarantine life sucks balls, and yet, it’s not uniquely sucky, the whole world is going through it, so toughen up, and get your head straight, and persevere?
They’re little. They’re disenchanted. It’s cognitive and emotional. I try to walk the line between tough love, unconditional love, and straight talk.
On the one hand, I know that those who love their lives, achieve big things, and go for their dreams, have grit. They probably don’t call it that. They probably say courage, or determination, initiative, or resourcefulness. Maybe fortitude, resolve, toughness, hardiness, tenacity, persistence, or gumption. Maybe even pluckiness.
It’s basically a requirement of survival at this point, and because it’s verifiably linked to success in academic and non-academic pursuits, the earlier you learn it, the better, right? Right.
But grit requires self-discipline and self-control, both of which are heavily regulated by emotions, and at age seven and under, that’s a tricky proposition.
Further, to understand or appreciate grit isn’t the same thing as developing it. That’s where I get stuck. I want my kids to develop self-discipline, self-control, and grit, AND I want them to trust that life is stunning, limitless, and awe-inspiring.
I know that grit will help them overcome challenging circumstances, but I don’t want to introduce the tough stuff before it’s necessary. Optimism is a difference-maker too, and I want and need them to stay hopeful and optimistic.
How we frame COVID, social injustice, leadership, climate change, all the things the US is currently facing affects their long-term outlook, their worldview, and they are little. So little. Let them be little.
I was thinking about how teachers play such a crucial role in teaching students complicated skills, like grit, emotional regulation, how to set and attain goals. This year, I’m their mom and their teacher — It’s complicated. I want them to download my wisdom, but not feel enormous pressure to succeed for my husband or me, to do it my way, or to do it at the expense of their well-being.
I’m grateful that the teachers have already taught and reinforced deep breathing and mindfulness practices as effective methods for regulating emotions throughout the years. Still, I want to strengthen them and layer on grit and resilience.
Grit is a strength of character, and resilience is the ability to bounce back despite against all odds — both are essential these days, as is problem-solving, self-awareness, empathy, compassion, patience, and gratitude. Are these concepts too complicated for them?
It’s hard to be a kid these days. It’s hard to be a parent too. And teachers, you don’t get nearly enough credit. It’s just hard. But we can do hard things.