Monkey Bars

28 Sep

In NYC, there are many options for elementary school. I know that my son will be attending a public school and I thought it would be the one located two blocks from our apartment – part of the reason we moved to this building earlier this year! 

 I recently learned that there are free schools and programs for “gifted” children that my son can test into (if he scores high enough on some standardized test). I know that my son is pretty special (what parent doesn’t think their kid is pretty special)  so  I decided to apply to some of these programs. Since I made the decision to apply to these programs, I noticed that I have become very anxious! So anxious that I had to stop and remind  myself  that these tests are for KINDGERGARTEN – not Harvard (although you would think they were by some of the applications).

I then tried to think about why I am anxious about this process and the more I thought about it, I realized it was because I have been recalling my experience in a program for “gifted” children. I was very stressed in the program, I felt very insecure and I was very nervous — all of the time. I projected that experience onto my son – even before he was tested for these “gifted” programs – which by the way, are very different than the program I attended in 1988! In projecting my experience onto my son, I also assumed that my son is just like me.  This is the first thing I was wrong about.  My son is his own person and comprised differently than I am (well not genetically, since we look alike and both love books).  My son helped me correct this misinterpretation on Saturday during an experience in the playground and by observing him during swimming lessons.

1. He has a competitive edge – in swimming class he rushed to be the first person to reach the other side of the pool during the class warm up – I could tell he was looking around to make sure he beat everyone. (I would never think that the warm up was a competition)
2. He is confident. He raises his hand in swim class to give an answer and volunteers to be the first person to try a new move. ( I was always shy about volunteering to be the first one (and still am so today!)
3. He doesn’t give up – even if something is difficult – he will try again. 

After swimming class we went to the playground and I noticed my son was climbing the monkey bars (I was about to tell him he was too small to reach for them but when I got to him he fell down!). I was so frightened that he might have broken a bone – it’s a long fall for a little guy!  He was crying hysterically. I picked him up and brought him to my lap and he continued to cry; however, I could not locate even one bruise! When I asked him what was wrong – he just continued to cry. So, I asked him if he wanted to climb the monkey bars  again – he said yes and stopped crying! He immediately went to try climb to the top and when it was time to reach for the bars – he asked me to help him. He didn’t want to give up. Even though he fell, he got right back up again and tried it again.

This observation made me aware that I should not project my anxiety and experience in the “gifted” program onto my son. He is a different person than I am (and was) and he has different strengths and weaknesses. My job as his parent is to identify those strengths and weaknesses and to nurture them so he may grow to his fullest potential as a man.

I am grateful that my son taught me that lesson on the Monkey Bars and that I was wise enough to listen. I’m also grateful that my son learned his lesson from the Monkey Bars and asked for my help as he tried to make it across after taking a pretty hard fall.


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