Thursday, September 22, 2016

But That's Not How I Do It

My son did a complete backpack overhaul today, consolidating papers and folders and assorted other "who knows what" into a single binder, complete with dividers and labels. The conversion process, complete with the room-wide explosion of numerous pieces of paper and plastic, took what seemed like several hours. I can't say exactly, because I was too busy stressing about his process even to keep track of time. I couldn't help thinking that critical pieces of schoolwork or homework or class rules would get lost in the shuffle, or that he would find himself lost when he tried to find each subject within his giant consolidated location. I guess I should have handled it differently. But part of parenthood, perhaps the hardest part, is backing off and letting your kids do things not your way, but their own. And so it was that several exhausting hours later, he slid his nifty new binder into his bag, and I slid my stressed out old self into bed.

I should know about backing off and letting people do what they do. More times than I can count, a producer has sat in my edit room and questioned my method for everything I did. I know firsthand how debilitating second-guessing can be, and how empowering being given time and space can be. I am far from knowing everything, but I learn the most when I am given the time to figure out, rather than being judged on my process of figuring out. The fact that I do something differently doesn't mean that I do it wrong. Likewise, the fact that my son assembled his binder differently (not the same way I would) didn't make it wrong. It just made it different.

I have high hopes that the hard-fought, and carefully organized, binder will accomplish everything it needs to accomplish. If it doesn't, I will likely spend a few more hours watching my son regroup with a different set of school supplies. And maybe then, I will do a little better with realizing that "how I do it" isn't the only way it can be done.

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