Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Can't

For those who aren't familiar with Tang Soo Do, it is one of the forms of Korean martial arts.  My youngest son discovered it through one of his friends when he was 7 years old.  He was determined to take classes, and began his training under the caring guidance of his first instructor, Master P.
I'm not sure where, deep inside his 7 year old soul, this little one's perseverance sprouted, but now, four years later, he is well on his way to becoming a black belt. 

From the start, I have watched his practices, taken him to tournaments, and chronicled his growth via pictures.  Early on, he asked me to join him on his "path to black belt excellence," but I wanted him to have his "thing" and be the Proud Mom on the sidelines.   His instructors extended the invitation as well, but I always politely declined.
Two weeks ago, one of his Masters pointedly asked me, "Why aren't you out here with us?"  My reply surprised me as it flew out of my mouth.  "I can't.  I'm afraid that I won't be physically able to do it.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to do everything that is necessary to become a black belt.  I don't want to fail.  I am scared."  He looked at me and said, "I know.  I've been where you are."
Mumbling about running errands, I exited the studio, and when I returned at pick-up, I hid behind the other parents to avoid eye contact with the other instructors.  The following Tuesday I watched my son as he trained during his regular class, sitting the sidelines, thinking. 
I can't.
I'm afraid.
What if I fail?

Every day, in my career as a reading specialist, I hear these words from my students.  Sometimes they are direct and explicit,  and sometimes they are veiled in a comment like, "I hate this book," or "I hate reading."  Here's the translation:
I can't
I'm afraid.
What if I fail?

With all of my nurturing guidance, my explicit strategy instruction, and my cheering from the sidelines, the fear remains.  I need to let my students know that I can see it.  We need to face it head-on, and acknowledge it, so that we can move past it and begin a new mantra.

I can.

Reading is tricky.  There will be places where we get stuck.  Sometimes we will fail, we will make mistakes, and it might be hard.  But, I have been where you are.  We will work through it together, and I will support you.
My reading partner and I (in Room 136) have decided to adopt this new mantra with our students.  I've decided to start another blog to chronicle our journey called Room 136.  (It will begin with "I CAN!")

Personally, I have gotten off the bleachers and successfully completed my first two Tang Soo Do classes this week.  It's not easy, and every single fiber of my being is sore, but I am no longer afraid.  I can do it.  

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