I really hate defensive people. When I have a legitimate observation about my feelings and a situation, do not undermine them by stating that they are wrong – especially if they are about our children.
As a mom, there is nothing more frustrating when you have legitimate observation about your children and people who have limited exposure to them basically tell you that you are wrong. Let’s just say that I have sat in more than one meeting at work, at my children school, etc.. and I express my concerns about what I observe or what I feel and the people across the table basically say my observation or my feelings are wrong. It is that moment when I want to stand up and say “here are my eyes and my heart – use them for my view”. I would love to have a Christmas Carol moment where I could be the angel that took that person on the outside of my life so they could “look in”. One of my favorite knock off versions of that movie is “Scrooged” with Bill Murray where the angel of Christmas Present (Carol Kane) keeps hitting Bill Murray on the back of the head for a “slap of reality” On any given day, I would love to travel with people into my life.
The other thing I note is that in every meeting there is at least one person that I want to be the angel to take them on the journey – honestly so I can “slap” them (a good “Gib Slap” from NCIS).
So having children, I have been in a variety of meetings this year. I endured the Autism testing. Literally, I completed hundreds of questions about Samuel. Some were multiple choice (which in that situation I absolutely hated because there was NOT room to explain my answer or the exception to the answer). I loved the open ended questions where I was free to “tell our story”. But, I still did not get to tell it all, so I attached a typed list of things I did not feel were covered. During that meeting, I met some incredible people, but there was still one – the Psychiatrist – that I felt distorted and/or disagreed with my perception. He did not live in my house, had met me and Sam for maybe 5 minutes, had not read the essays/questions/etc, and still I felt I had to defend my perception – he was defending the SYSTEM of the diagnosing and not the uniqueness of Sam. The rest of the hours of meeting, people referred to what I wrote, asked me questions about Sam and our family, and when the final report came back. I read it and cried because it really reflected our story.
Earlier this year I attended a series of meetings to create an I.E.P (Individualized Education Plan) for Samuel. Some people at the meetings had not even met Samuel. Others “see him” in the hallway but don’t know him, and then there are those who share the majority of the day with him. To me, only the people who share the majority of the day and me were the only opinions that matter. When I talked about his writing (and was armed with examples), and someone who “sees” him but doesn’t have encounters with him became defensive of my facts and opinion. EXCUSE ME but he is our son, I do his homework with him, and I know what makes him tick!!!! Don’t become defensive of the system that doesn’t work for every child – that is why we are sitting at the table to make an INDIVIDUALIZED education plan.
I had another meeting yesterday for a Gifted I.E.P. meeting for Mary. I just took my purse. I had been given a mini questionnaire before hand and filled it in and returned it. It is usually a very smooth process, only a few of us at the table, and we all just agree. Overall it states how great things are going. BUT then, I bring up my observations and much to my surprise a defense of “the system” happens once again. NOT from the gifted teacher who knows Mary and what makes her tweak. Well, guess what, I am the one who picks up my daughter from school everyday. I am the one who knows what happens in her day – who is mean to her, who is in her classroom, who is her partner on projects, etc.. I know Mary and I know she puts on her “everything is okay” face at school and will roll with the punches. But, at the end of the day the real Mary comes out, the real issues are exposed, and the stories tell it all. When was the last time you had a conversation with her and asked how is it really going? If the SYSTEM was perfect for every child, I wouldn’t have I.E.P.s for both of my children.
(*** NOTE the differences of meetings could become the next blog)
It happens at work too – people defend the systems of why we do things. Often the systems are done based on “research” of what works best. But, often “research” leaves out the human element. Not every system works for EVERY person. If only I.E.P.s could be applied to work situations – you have “gifted” employees who just get it and work above who should be given unique growth opportunities. There are those who need I.E.P.s because they think a little differently or are hard workers but are just a little slower. A SYSTEM is not perfect for everyone.
A few things I need to incorporate in life to prepare for SYSTEM EVALUATIONS. First of all, a successful meeting to me is to 1. ask me in advance a question so I have time to ponder my answer and 2. when I give the answer if they don’t agree just say “Thank you for that perspective. I never thought about it like that”. (P.S. I am definitely going to be more conscious of this response with friends, my husband, and my children too!) Secondly, when a person or persons become defensive of the SYSTEM and not of the people/children, it is important to take a step back and evaluation the system and the defensive person. With any evaluation, there is a choice at the end –
- Can the system meet my needs for you or your family (as the individual(s) most affected) and if not can I change myself to fit the system (because you know the system isn’t going to change),
- Is the defensive person defensive for self-preservation or because they truly believe in the system. Are they so defensive that change is never an option even if it is best for the individual? Have they been in the system too long and can’t step out and look at it from a different perspective (do they need a Christmas Carol moment)?
- If I can’t change and the person defensive of the system won’t change – do I stay in the system and remain miserable? Or do I take a step into a new system to see if it is a better fit – because remember often the defensive person will not change (and if they are in control it is a problem) and if I know the system won’t change!!!
I definately have some systems to evaluation — I am prepared with heart and head (=
“Evaluate what you want — because what gets measured, gets produced. ” – James Belasco