Yesterday my son and I were sitting in the lobby of the dentist’s office when an alert came to my phone, notifying me that we were having an extreme weather day out of school today. The temperatures were too cold for students to safely stand at bus stops, and after many days of buildings sitting vacant, those were likely to be difficult to truly warm in the anticipated excessive cold. So he and I had another day to spend together, finishing his science fair project, taking in a movie, listening to an audio book, and playing board games. We were both more than okay with it.
He had a rough week at school last week, thus we both had an emotionally rough week. The time to chill and heal and chill some more (literally!) had a certain appeal.
Others in the lobby and on the staff disagreed. Those working moms were frustrated and inconvenienced by the sudden lack of child care. While they expressed empathy for those for whom the cold would be a struggle, they also had their own new issues to address. Day off? Leave the child unattended? Recruit a sitter?
I’ve been listening to quite a few self-development podcasts lately, and these different perspectives on the same event really resonated with me, driving home one of the things I’ve learned from broadcasts by The Life Coach School and Brooke Castillo. Circumstances are not inherently good or bad. They’re neutral. The way we interpret them is up to us. We write the story. We determine the emotion to assign to them.
It’s been a challenging few weeks for my son. Executive Function / Attention Deficit Disorder have dealt him some blows.
I can choose to feel sad about it, which I admittedly have, or I can choose to view it as an opportunity to find and build on his strengths. I can choose to be negative and see the deficits in both him and in his school, or I can view these as opportunities to coach him and inform his/my district about these invisible needs that many likely share with him.
We choose our stories. This is one time when a first draft really does need to be a good one. Rough drafts are made to be rewritten, but the stories we tell ourselves are one time when getting the content right the first time matters.