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Monday, September 16, 2013

What I Learned from Silent "L"

When I was a child, I remember learning how to read. I recall the word "would" showing up on the page. I was a good reader, but it took me FOREVER to learn that word.

As we read in class, I remember my turn to read would come up. Without fail, as I'd hit that word, someone would blurt it out so that I wouldn't have to struggle with sounding it out and take valuable time stumbling over that silent "l." Over and over this happened.

Then, one day, I was sitting at home reading silently to myself. Suddenly, there was a word that held me up. It wasn't a long word, and I knew every letter in it, but I sat there and struggled. I tried to sound it out. I recall slowly sounding each letter out--W-O-U-L-D. I said it out loud, "Would." What word was that? I had never heard a word like that before. I had to have been reading it wrong.

Finally, I figured out that the words around it might help me figure it out. Sure enough. That word was "would!" Pronounced "wood." Got it! It clicked. From that point on, whenever I saw "W-O-U-L-D," I knew that it was pronounced "wood." I never struggled with it again.

You might ask why this is so significant to me now. Why would I even remember something so simple as this? Here is why.....And yes, my explanation will require another little story....

When #1 was about seven, I signed her up for swimming lessons. As she came out of the locker room and headed to the pool, with panic on her face, she shared that she had forgotten her towel.

My first instinct was to tell her to go ahead and go to her lesson. I'd run home and get her towel. I'd be back just in time for the end of the lesson. Something stopped me...."Would" stopped me.

I thought through the scenario....If I "read over it" for her, would she ever learn to "read" it?

Instead of grabbing my car keys and making a run for the parking lot, I chose otherwise. I told her how sad I was that she'd forgotten it, and I wasn't lying. I really WAS sorry. I went and grabbed my seat in the stands and proudly watched my daughter learn a new skill.

At the end of the lesson, #1 came shivering from the pool. She scurried, because "no running" allowed, to the locker room, showered, and clumsily pulled her clothes onto her wet body. Was I sad for her? You'd better believe it. Did I feel guilty because I could have solved her problem? Oh, yes, but again, "would" stopped me.

Sometimes (dare I say often?), teaching our children is painful. Sometimes, just because we are the grown ups and have been there, done that, and have the means to rescue them and thus relieve them (and ourselves) from any amount of discomfort, we feel that that's our duty. 

I was pretty sure that after that, #1"would" never forget her towel again. She had been allowed to have the full experience of "sounding it out" herself. 

Actually, the next week, as we walked through the door to the pool, #1 smiling, proudly, pulled her towel from her bag: "Look, Mom. I brought my towel." I never had to remind her about her towel again. That doesn't mean I didn't have to remind her about other things, but I guess shivering wasn't her idea of a good time, so the towel thing was covered.

I would propose that it is more important for us to use those feelings to react compassionately toward our children. It's in the allowing them to have the full experience. That the true learning takes place.

So, why do these stories pop into my head this morning? Well, as we were heading out the door to school this morning, one of my children started to walk out the front door without shoes or socks on. I noticed, but I said nothing. I knew that within a few steps out onto the deck, he'd figure it out and run back in, but before that experience could teach the lesson, his older brother called out, "SHOES!"

DARN! I guess that lesson will be reserved for another occasion. I "would" think there will be one.

Sadly, though, I do need to add an obvious note here: 
If a child is in mortal danger, for heaven's sake, rescue him/her (Did I really need to add that?). If it is a situation in which the child really can't fix it him/herself (for example, my daughter taking care of her fraud situation while she was heading to the MTC), you will have to step in and take care of things. 

1 comment:

vaxhacker said...

Wise thoughts. But as a parent... oh, so very hard to actually do at the moment they need something they forgot, and you know how easy it would be to just get it for them.

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