10.17.2008

puzzles


I have never enjoyed reading. It's not that a good story isn't worth getting lost inside of or that there aren't captivating authors that inspire me to learn new words or think differently. It's that it feels almost painful to sit still and concentrate for a long time on some paper and typed words. I have to shake a foot, scratch my head, fidget any way I can and then my mind is triggered by a word or idea that floats from the book that then takes me into a different day dream far, far away from the story. It's page three and I am hungry for a snack and have no idea what I just read.

It's something during school I hid well and felt embarassed about. Because of this weakeness in my ability to focus on things for a long period of time, I was not the quickest reader nor was I able to get through the tougher words when reading aloud as a class. It appeared in school if you didn't read well you were looked at as being dumb. It's truly the only time in school I hated an audience and actually wondered what kind of scholastic bucket I fell into. But I somehow pulled decent enough grades that I flew below the radar in that subject and moved on without drawing too much attention.

I was generally a B student, although reflecting back I am not sure how. I did my homework when I could complete it at home without distractions, however, tests and in-class assignments were always hopeless. I spent the time making other kids in the class laugh. Or day dreaming. Or doodling. Or counting the curls of hair of the girl sitting infront of me. I was rather obedient and mindful of my teachers and took my talking in class to a whisper when I got the look of death. I couldn't hear the instructions if the teacher spent more than 5 minutes explaining them, so after the 30 minutes of wah wha wawawah sounds I turned to a neighbor to get the summary "what do we need to do?" Luckily I was friendly enough with everyone that someone was always willing to help me get started on whatever it was we needed to work on. Or super score if the instructions were summarized on paper for me to read over and over a few times. I guess you could say I am a visual learned.

It's reflecting back on this time that I understand myself better. And my son. Thinking through the course of my life and what I have felt successful at (public speaking) and what I have not been so great at (compensation analyst) that is has become very clear to me over the years what I am strong at and what I am naturally not as strong at. Learning how my God-given brains works and doesn't work so well in some areas is part of the High School Carrer Assesment Tool that appears to be lacking. We cannot pick any career we want and do well in it. There will just simply be things we are better at and things we are not. I was not born to work at NASA. But I'm bright and will move mountains somewhere else in a more applicable field I was meant to fit into. HR proved to be a great fit for me, but I believe there is more waiting for me when the season is right in my life to look for it.

People that struggle with the ability to focus are not dumb. They are not slow (although I never felt I was personally, but have seen others appear to assume this of me). People that prefer visuals and human interaction to paper or spreadsheets or data are just different. Like the way I have brown hair and maybe you have red or black hair. We arrive here with this package of who we are and we are constantly trying to find the norm and benchmark to compare ourselve to and figure out if we are better or worse. "Normal" or "special". But the package deal is what we should be seeing that- we are apples and oranges and pinapples and kiwi and bananas and sometimes banana-kiwi hybrids. The way we look, the things we like, the way our brains work varies from person to person. That's how it's supposed to be. If we were all the same, fitting into a mold, then there are a lot of creative solutions our world would miss out on.

So when we don't, or our children don't, fit into this mold we get classified. We get a mixture of feelings. We have to read aloud and be found out that something isn't our strength even though another talent well surpasses those apples you are comparing me to. And then as a parent, you want to collapse and sulk and wonder all you are doing wrong for a child to not be exactly this mold his teacher expects.

And then you wash your face with some cold water and remember- oh yea it's actually REALLY boring to me to sit and listen to someone speak for a long time. I totally get that. I naturally want to get out of my seat and walk away, too, but have learned to work through that. Okay, so what did I figure out when I was learning to work through school with such a short attention span? What are creative ways to teach this? What are ways to make sure he is also always aware of his strengths and how can we make sure he feels that shine forth?

We all have beautiful minds. Even mine, the one that would probably be diagnosed with those horrible letters that are attached to our busy boys that would rather be running around outside instead of drawing at a table with crayons. We are made the way we are supposed to be. And I am given the children I am supposed to have to help them learn how to learn and play and have fun and grow and love. Even on days when I think I am not the best fit for their needs, I am actually their perfect fit. I know that I will either intuitively know or find ways to figure out how to lead them in this life. And while it's not nearly as straight-forward as the succession planning forms I completed in my past career, it's a lot more important.

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I love this quote by Glenn Beck (CNN 2.28.08) and how he figured out his work-around to summarize a complex interview. I totally get this- this is how I have learned to understand things. Simplify the data and put it back together creatively. And I bet this is a far more interesting an article to digest (for my head anyway) than the details he initially heard. He has found the perfect career for him that touches millions.

"Professor Roubini recently laid out what he called the "12 steps to financial disaster." Unfortunately, they were really complicated, and I have severe ADD, so I've boiled them down into five phases that even a rodeo clown like me can understand. "
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