Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The failure that haunts me still....

Growing up I was always a good student. I did well in reading, math and art class. I got good grades in science and social studies too. The only thing I really struggled with in school was P.E. class. I was just never very athletic. I remember dreading my class’ weekly hour in what we called gym class and wishing I could somehow get out of it.
I could never get a hit when we played baseball. I could never make a basket during basketball. I could never serve the ball over the net when it was time for volleyball. The only time I did not completely embarrass myself was on the rare occasion we would enter the gym to find stations set up with different activities to do as individuals. There would be hula hoops to play with, stilts to walk on, mats to tumble on, and my sister’s all time favorite-- ropes to climb. Then there was that other station. The one I most clearly remember. It consisted of two plastic crates, one full of colorful scarves and the other small plastic balls. This was the juggling station. The idea was to practice juggling the scarves and, once that was mastered, move on to the balls. Now, in all honesty, even on individual stations day, I still did not excel at P.E. I was not great at the hula hoops, I could only stay on the stilts for a minute or two. I could hold my own with somersaults and cartwheels but never progressed to any fancier tumbling. I did okay on the ropes but always got very nervous the higher I went. But the scarves, well, that was actually a little bit fun. I enjoyed tossing those colorful scarves and than quickly trying to catch them all again before the gently floated to the filthy gymnasium floor. I could keep up with two scarves at a time and eventually graduated to three. Because this was something I was okay at, I did not want to ruin it by pushing myself too far. I never even attempted to juggle those little plastic balls. I steered clear of the second plastic crate and stuck to what I was most comfortable with.
The good news, all these years later, is that failing at P.E. has not held me back in life too terribly much. As a 34 year old mother of 5, I cannot tell you the last time I even had the opportunity to play basketball or walk on stilts, let alone the need to do it well. But the juggling station...well now I can see it would have been well worth the effort to have truly mastered the art of juggling. The truth is I do wish now, that I would have tried so much harder to really succeed at the juggling station. How I would have benefited from trying my hand at keeping several of those small plastic balls up in the air all at once, instead of concentrating on the scarves which presented no challenge to me at all.
As a home schooling mother, I could really use those juggling skills I had the chance to perfect so many years ago. These days, I feel our home classroom is a lot like a three ring circus. I have a fifth grader, a third grader, and a first grader to teach and instruct, all while caring for a 2 month old infant, and all of this, in between drop off and pick up at my 4 year old son’s preschool. Juggling my life is a whole lot more like the hard plastic balls, which would sting if they fell on your head, or would roll away if you let them drop to the floor, than like those lovely bright scarves that just floated in the breeze.
I guess this experience just goes to show me that every opportunity to learn in this life is worth taking! Now, though, it is time to sign off, because my children are demanding my attention. And since I am not a very good juggler, I guess I need to concentrate on one thing at a time!

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