“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor E. Frankl
I had good intentions of dedicating this month to an attitude of gratitude. My son and I were going to play a daily round of what I dubbed “Bob’s Blessing Assessing,” styled after Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) from “The Walking Dead.” Him and Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) would play the “good out of the bad” game in an effort to lighten the gloom of the zombie apocalypse they were struggling to survive in. She would state something that in their situation was definitely a negative and he would reply with a way to turn it into a positive. For example; she would say “danger around every corner” his response, “never a dull moment.” or “hot sun beating down on you,” he’d reply, “gorgeous tan” and one of the best, “no privacy,” his reply, “captive audience” followed by him giving Sasha a kiss. Which brought a smile to everyones face. So, this little game did help to lighten the load in not just their lives, but those around them.
Bob and Sasha
My thoughts were if they could find a blessing in anything while trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse, my son and I could surely be able to find sunshine in anything that brought us gloom in a non-apocalyptic world. The problem was, we found it hard to find the gloom. In reality, even if we complained about something or were upset about something that occurred during the day, we never considered it enough of a negative that we would have to dig deep for the positive. We knew it was something that would pass and not worth giving that much energy. As I look back at our efforts, I’m quite pleased because we learned that despite our grumbling at times, we both know we are truly blessed and nothing can take that away from us. Not even the daily parent/teen struggles.
This exercise also made me realize that my son might actually be understanding that some things happen for a reason and that some of the negative things in our lives are there to teach us lessons. That maybe, just maybe, they are a sign that we might need to change how we do things or think about things. My theory was quickly ripped to shreds at the first sign of trouble with school work. As many of you regular readers know, my son can challenge me when it comes to his time management and organization of school work. My June post was all about this, which prompted me to bring in a private tutor to help with his study skills, which needed to be fine-tuned in order to survive his high school years. In general, my son gets good grades, but has the occasional not-so-great ones, which I’m OK with because I know we all have off days. It’s the not-so-great final grades that raise the red flag, especially when things seemed to be moving along at a steadily improving pace. My son was implementing some of the time management/organizational and study skills that the tutor had introduced, plus between the three of us we created a daily check list for my son to use to help ensure he doesn’t overlook any assignments, an issue that has bitten him in the back end more than once already.
As the end of the first marking period of his freshman year in high school approached, all signs were pointing to a positive outcome across the board. His academic grades were all A’s and high B’s as well as in band and engineering. That was until the final project for engineering was handed in and my son found out he had completely misunderstood a major detail to the assignment. The teacher was generous and gave him the opportunity to rework the section that was wrong, but he would only get half credit. My son did this, but, it only pulled the final grade up to a “C” because he already had a really late assignment at the beginning of the year. I did not get upset with my son, because, number one, it was not a core academic class. Number two, a “C” is a passing grade and shouldn’t keep him from making honor roll. And, number three, it was not only the gloom, but the light. Had my son actually pulled out the rubric for the assignment as he was working on it, he would have realized what he thought was OK to do was very much wrong and this would have prevented this not-so-great grade from happening. This major detail opened the door for a lesson to be learned, thus the light. When the teacher lays out the assignment in detail, use that as your guide and you won’t have major issues, don’t rely on your memory. It turns out that this is the very thing that caused problems with my son’s final science project in eighth grade, which was the catalyst to bring in a tutor.
So, here we are again, two steps forward and one step back. Despite my son’s advancements with his study skills and taking ownership of his actions when his decisions are far from the best, the “C” in engineering and 2 other not-so-great grades in a test and homework, threw him into a funk. He became “Mr. Negative,” stating he’ll never change, so why bother. He missed the point that these things will continue to happen until the lesson we need to learn is learned. Instead of these incidents being a catalyst to change, they became an excuse to just give up. Read the rest of this entry »