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I think You're Asking the Wrong Person

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My daughter loves to sing and she’s blessed with a voice that, if she was willing to share it with the world, everyone would want to hear. 

Seriously, one day I yelled up the stairs and down the hall (as only the mother of a teenager can) Turn that radio down! 

It wasn’t the radio. She’s that good. She’s also shy. Shy at school. Shy in public places. Stage fright so bad she shakes… shy.  But she loves music and adores singing! And, as I mentioned, she’s pretty darn good at it.

I’m not saying she’s never got up on stage and blown us all away, but she’s hated every minute of the fear, pressure and expectation that went with it. And, as far as the quality of her voice, it’s unfortunate, but you’ll have to take my word for it because she’d probably disown me and move out, regardless of being 16, if I shared a video with you.

Recently, I, being one of those empower not enable (but seriously - can you get over your fear already because the world needs your voice) type of MindsetMamas found the solution in the form of a 30 day, online, digital acapella course taught by, none other than her FAVORITE group, Pentatonix.

And, get this - it was a 2-for-the-price-of-1 solution as she’s required to do an honors project for her Junior year of high school. 

And yet, because I’m a Core4Parent, I opened the lines of communication before actually making the purchase. (trust me - I wanted to hit BUY NOW - and tell her later, so badly!)

The conversation went something like this. 

Me: (excitedly, voice a bit too high pitched) “Caroline! Guess what? I found the perfect answer to your honors project AND it involves singing!

Her: (wary and on-guard) “Yeah?”

Me: “Yeah! It’s an online class where you get to write, sing, and arrange your own music taught by….. (dramatic pause) The Pentatonix!”

Her: (less wary, more interested, still not sure)  “Oh. Yeah?” 

Me: “Here look at this webpage. Read about it. Watch the intro. I just know you’re going to LOVE it! You can use it as your honors project.

It’s going to be GREAT!”

Her: (looking directly at me) “Mom, you’re doing it again.” 

Me: “What?”

Her: “You’re putting words in my mouth”.

According to her I do that a lot. I don’t agree or, at least, I don’t mean to. But, IF I do (unintentionally, of course) it comes from a place of knowing and excitement and a desire to support her in following her dreams and passions, and in this case - her God given gift of an angel voice.

I’m also committed to being a Core4Parent which means honoring the core4 connectors in our parent/child relationship.

This means respecting where she is in this journey to self, right now, and believing her choices are in alignment with who she is, not what she’s willing to do (or not do) with her voice. 

*sigh* 

A few days later my phone rang. It was a teacher from her school calling. That conversation went something like this:

Teacher: “Caroline is taking the SAT’s this year and because she has 504 plan I can submit an application for extenuating circumstances”.

Me: “Great. She’ll need some accommodations for sure. Thanks for being on top of this.”

I mean, just hearing mention of the SATs had my anxiety level on the rise.

Teacher: “Of course. So that's my question. I can put in an application for extra time but there’s a decision to make. Do you want her to have an extra hour and a half or unlimited extra time?”

The teacher went on, explaining to me the benefits of one versus the other. And the likelihood of being approved for one versus the challenge of achieving the other. I listened and thought of my girl and which option might get her the best experience, and therefore - results. 

I took a beat.

Teacher: “Yeah, I know it's a hard decision. That's why I called. What do you think would be best for Caroline?"

As I opened my mouth to respond, a voice in the back of my head, that sounded eerily like Caroline’s, said You’re doing it again. You’re putting words in my mouth. And so I abandoned whatever I was about to say and said this instead.

Me: “I think you're asking the wrong person”.

Teacher: “What?”

Me: “I'm not taking the SAT’s.  I did that a really long time ago. It's Caroline's turn. She knows that tests overwhelm her. She knows it takes her much longer to process information, and then come up with a response than it does other people. She also knows if she wants to be in a building all day long taking a test or if she would prefer the limit of having an extra hour and a half and knowing she needs to get it done in that amount of time.”

It was the teacher’s turn to take a beat.

Me: “In short, Caroline knows herself, how she learns and tests best so I think you're asking the wrong person. Ask her.”

Caroline goes to The Compass School.

They founded their little charter in 1999 by designing 5 learning realms to educate the whole student:

Knowledge, Thinking and Reasoning, Personal Development, Communication, and Community Involvement, such that graduates know who they want to be in the world.

I mean, the words “student led” are in their mission statement!

And so, although I understand why this teacher called to ask me, a parent, my opinion, I also feel like there's an incredible amount of value to including our kids in these conversations.

  • They are the ones putting in the effort.
  • They are the ones learning about themselves through the experience.
  • They are the ones that receive the value of their efforts.
  • Let's trust our little people no matter how big they get.

Let’s include them in the conversation. 

Let’s ask their opinions and preferences.

Let’s respect that our kids are the makers of their own journey and let’s give them the opportunity to be part of it.

Let’s not put words in their mouths, but listen to the words that come out, and then hold them accountable for their choices. 

Caroline has yet to tell me her decision about accommodations for the SAT’s but she did choose to take the online vocal course. It’s kinda kicking her virtual butt. 

But, there’s a spark in her musical eye again.

She’s doing the hard work. 

She’s putting in the effort. 

It’s challenging her beliefs about good vs. best and good enough vs. perfect.

And it’s pure joy to listen to her sing again, on her own terms.

Check back with me at SAT time. Chances are I’ll be singing a very different tune!

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