Saturday, June 29, 2013
This morning I read a delightful Spark mail from BABARR67, whose youthful gym experiences were less than wonderful, and her words triggered not-so-great memories of my own. Here's my response to her:
"I feel your pain about the gym...perhaps I wasn't *always* the last person chosen for kick ball, but it happened enough that I remember the shame. Then there was that rope climbing thing in 3rd grade. I still remember the rope burns. And we had to stand on our heads then, too. The PE coach was so mean. I couldn't make my legs go straight up. To balance, my legs were tipped slightly forward, but even though I was doing a headstand (the last one I EVER did), the coach yelled at me. Isn't it amazing how those little hurts stick with us? What were we in 3rd grade? 8? 9? Sigh."
While I don't agree that every successful nose-blowing requires a "good job!" in our present-day movement to boost self esteem in children, support for making an honest effort is a good thing, because it teaches that "not perfect" is still a good start and can lead to trying harder or working smarter. The early lessons I got at home and at school were that less than perfect resulted in criticism and yelling. Thinking back on that, it's little wonder that I refused to try new things (especially physical pursuits) if I didn't think I could excel. I missed out on a lot of experiences, the most important of which, I believe, it the experience of failure in a "safe" environment. Learning to deal with failure for the first time as an adult is way harder without practice in a supportive, non-threatening way as a child.