I went over to help Joshua. You know this kid. You know he will need a little extra help with a task. With organizing himself, with beginning, with persevering, with completing, with cleaning-up. Sometimes he needs a reminder to go back to his table (he’s visiting a friend.) He needs a reminder to hold the pencil, not flip it in the air.
I go over with my kindest approach. We get the paper turned the right way. I put my finger under the first word, ready to quietly read together. I look up. Joshua’s eyes are not on the word. They are anywhere but on the word. They are all over the room, looking for a friend, for distraction, for escape.
I am getting a little annoyed. I have other kids to help. I am here just for him. I will check back in with him. I want badly to help him be comfortable with today’s work.
There may be many things going on with Joshua, but I think one thing is that he is afraid to learn. If he starts working with me, he has to reveal himself. I will see what he can and can’t do. His friends might also. And after that? I will expect him to do more. And more. And more. It’s never going to end, so maybe if we can postpone the beginning…
I am feeling more sympathetic to Joshua since I realized that I am also afraid to learn. Afraid to learn Spanish. I studied Spanish in high school and in college. I have two children who speak Spanish, I have travelled in Spanish-speaking countries, and have hosted Spanish speaking guests. But I do not speak Spanish, more than a pinch.
I admit, I am afraid.
I depended on my daughter to interpret and guide us. Without her, I would be revealed. As one who is struggling. And if I speak a little, will people expect me to say more? And to understand more? And more? And more?
I am now working on my Spanish, studying a half hour every day. I am determined to overcome this fear and to be more independent when I need Spanish. I want to be brave, and to try. Once I open my mouth to begin, I know my limits will be revealed. But should I not expect of myself the courage I expect of Joshua?