All around me, Daisies were happily hammering their woodworking project with a parent sitting next to them, guiding them. My Daisy, Megan, and my son, Alex, who has to come along for our Daisy meetings, sat with their materials in front of them, waiting for me to take charge and tell them how we get started. We were at our bi-monthly Daisy meeting and our troop was fully embracing this building activity. As a co-leader, I was not having a good night. I forgot we were supposed to bring a hammer. Or maybe I shoved it back into my subconscious, dreading this moment.
I have poor spatial skills. I have no experience with hammering and building. I HATE projects like this. I felt paralyzed. I didn't know how to even begin, so I didn't. I moved a few things around the table, but that was just to look busy. If I could have left for the bathroom, or a drink of water, or a trip to the nurse, I would have GLADLY.
Suddenly I see. I see how it just sucks to sit somewhere and be expected to do something you have no clue how to do, don't really want to do, are sure you are incapable of doing. I see how some of my students must feel at school each day, when reading and writing tasks feel to them like woodworking felt to me. Which is to say DREADFUL.
At Daisies tonight, a caring dad saved the day. He had already helped his daughter, and he must have seen us sitting there, doing nothing. My children wanted to make this project and so he came in and kindly helped them to do the hammering and assembling.
Sometimes, we all need a little help. Sometimes we need a lot. Tonight was a good reminder of how awful it is to feel like you are incapable of doing something that everyone else seems to know how to do. How a helpful person can make the difference. Why escape and avoidance are such sensible ways for students to deal with the pain and anxiety of feeling lost in the classroom. How a teacher can recognize when students are avoiding and escaping and find ways to make learning endeavors less stressful.
While it felt really awful to feel so inadequate and clueless, it did provide this insight so I hope some good can come from me being so terrible at my Daisy meeting.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski