The time has come where summer is ending and school is beginning. Well I actually only realized recently that school began once I started perusing through several Facebook posts from family and friends sharing about their children's first day back to school. It is very interesting reading through some of the posts of some parents that are relieved that their children are back in school while others are already missing the quality family time they had during summer vacation. It is indeed very interesting to see the different mindsets of families' values with their children. And after talking to several friends about what their choosing to do with their children, whether it's enrolling them in amazing co-op schools, enrolling their children in the traditional school system or choosing to homeschool their children with other like-minded families (or as I like to think of it, lifeschool) -- there is one popular topic amongst parents that has always been commonly shared: our children's education.
Whether you're lifeschooling, joining a co-op or going through the traditional school system, there is one thing that is vital in bringing up our children consciously and that is to support our children's passions. And sometimes that means releasing any issues or experiences we had growing up and our relationship to school and/or learning in order to support what our children like doing (and not just keeping our children busy with our own agendas in mind of what we think or hope they will like).
Ouch! That became a realization for me when I started noticing that swim class with my son was no longer enjoyable. Unlike last year where he was learning the "crocodile crawl," "monkey crawl" and him actually feeling confident enough to go under water to get a toy on the steps of the pool. Whereas this summer, I felt like we had taken a few steps back and he didn't even want to do any of the things he learned last year. Mind you, the swim teacher is amazing and is definitely child-led for what the child is ready for -- no child is ever forced to do something they aren't comfortable with. You know, like being thrown in the water to learn on their own?! Okay so that didn't happen to me as a kid but I did hear from someone that it happened to them!
So I was relieved to know that my little man was in a gentle environment with learning and why I continue taking classes with his instructor, Jennifer Golde from Water Otters. But as amazing as it is, after paying for three summer lessons with very little progress, I was starting to feel pretty discouraged and frustrated at this point. Okay so maybe it's not always going to be enjoyable but it's an important class in order for him to learn how to swim, right? But is it more important for him to learn and "get it" or was it more important for me to honor his feelings and find ways to make it enjoyable whether we're "learning" a new skill or not?
I read a great article from a friend and Family Love Village expert panelist, Michelle Barone, that pointed to a really good question: "What fear or stuck energy do you need to clear to keep from projecting onto your kids?"
After asking myself that question, I realized something profound around my frustration with my son not wanting to learn how to swim and how I was truly projecting my own fears onto him due to an experience I had had when I was a child. When I was around 5 or 6-years-old, I had a near death experience when a huge wave took my sister, my cousin and myself from the side of a cliff near a beach. My auntie was able to save my sister and my cousin but I had gone too far out to sea for her to reach me (she was pregnant at the time, mind you). My uncle, on the other hand, was able to swim towards me but just then as our fingertips touched, I was yet again pulled further away by crashing waves.
Everything seemed so surreal. I felt like I was in a movie as I watched the surface of the water go further away from me. I remember seeing the rays of the sun streaming through the water as I continued to get pummeled into the rocks at the bottom of the beach. Thankfully my Uncle was able to finally grab me and swim back to shore. But if a few more minutes had passed, they would've had to get a boat to save me (that's how far out to sea I had gone).
Thinking back to that question that Michelle asked, it was so clear to me that my frustration with my son not being ready to try new things with swimming (or previous lessons for that matter) was really about my fears of this experience of feeling helpless and not being able to swim as a little girl and how I didn't want a similar experience to happen to my son. And could it be that it wasn't necessarily about my son not wanting to learn but more about him feeling the energy with how I was behaving during swim class?
In Michelle's article, she also mentions that "kids see/feel energy before the words are spoken." The desperation of wishing he could dive under water like the rest of the much younger babies in our class; the settle disappointments of him not doing the "monkey crawl" or even wanting to get water sprinkled on him during the "London Bridges" song? Yes, they may have been very subtle annoyances but it was definitely energy that my son was picking up on, nonetheless! And even though I wasn't right out showing my utter frustration with him or forcing him to do anything he didn't want to, I was still inwardly feeling defeated. So the moment I was able to wake up to how I was projecting with my own fears and "agenda," I felt freed from the anxiety and frustration I was starting to feel around the topic of swimming.
And just as it was important to clear my projections around my own experience -- as a new lifeschooling mama -- it was just as imperative for me to ask him if he still wanted to continue taking the swim classes. Surprisingly he said "Yes"! So along with my breakthrough and with me continuously to support my son in what he enjoys doing (without my own "plans" or "control" of how I would prefer things to go), the more fun that we both can now experience in anything that he wants to explore. Heck, he may not be diving under water tomorrow or the next day (or even next month) but I can now relax and enjoy just being in the water with my son, at whatever stage he feels comfortable with!
So whenever your child or teenager is learning something new or different and you start to feel yourself getting frustrated with the process, perhaps take the time to go within and ask yourself "What fear or stuck energy do I need to clear to keep from projecting onto my kids?" As conscious parents, it is vital for us to receive conscious tools and loving support so that we can be fully present to support our children with their desire to learn.
Tangee Veloso-Pueblos is the founder of Family Love Village