Saturday, September 11, 2010

It IS All About You

The community in which I live is somewhat small. A person in the community told me that her little one was having difficulty registering for school. The little one has some learning disabilities and the guardian was advised that the child would need more than ten hours of tutoring per week, BEFORE she could register and start school.

Tutoring runs over $40 dollars per hour. Now, from the outset, this didn't sound "quite" right to me. Why? One reason is that the school is a public school and not a private school and I am very familiar with its program and curriculum.

I made some suggestions and the guardian kept focusing on the $40 dollars. I asked the guardian had she verified if this were correct or not? Had she looked at some of the free programs in the community?

All I got was,"I haven't been up to the school. This is ridiculous that they are trying to keep the child out of school. All I know is the [television] news is going to go up there and see about this."

In frustration, I looked at the person and said,"You need to do something. You need to be a bridge between this child and the school. If you do nothing and don't take any action, you have failed the child."

The person stopped and looked at me. Then she got angry. As the conversation CONTINUED to spiral down, I was at least able to gather that the person had locked her teeth into, "You have failed the child." When I tried to explain by saying, "You misunderstood"... The person turned quickly on her heels and said, " "NO! YOU don't understand. We have NOT failed this child," and walked away angrily.

Her anger had nothing to do with the child. I had struck a nerve, a sore spot. This woman felt hopeless, immobilized, trapped. I had unknowingly hit the nail on the head. This would be confirmed by someone else later. It wasn't even a hollow victory to learn that. When something is hollow, it infers that it is 'empty' or that there is emptiness. When I learned this, I did not feel 'nothingness'. It was painful for me because I felt as if I had failed this woman, this guardian.

To make a long story short, I made some calls to the school district MYSELF, talked to my contacts at the school board, got the principal's information and wrote up the process step by step as to what to do. I had telephone numbers and names. I gave the information to another guardian of the child and the child is happily in school. As I suspected, the tutoring information was not correct.

I pursued the issue because of the child. I still believe that it takes a community to raise a child. When one child is lost and falls through the cracks, I feel that the surrounding adults are partly to blame. Despite the warnings by my contact at the school board, "You know if you continue this you may get cursed out, right?" I prevailed and continued on and the child is in school and has what is needed.

Guess what? This is not about the child, after six (6) paragraphs, right! It is about the child's guardian. She had no idea how to navigate the formal processes to find out the "truth" and to get to what the child needed. All she knew how to do was bluster, be angry, be frustrated and continue with a "victim" type of mentality. SHE came to ME with this issue. I didn't come to her. I told her what I believed to be the truth, "If you take no action, you have failed the child." She got angry about what I said because she couldn't deal with the truth.

I failed HER, the guardian, because I forgot with whom I was speaking. This woman felt like she never caught a break in her life. She has struggled all her life in every area of her life. I had an inkling of this but was so focused and depserate to get the child what she needed, I gave her information straight with no chaser. It burned her throat and her belly. To this day, this woman still does not talk with me when I see her in the community.

I feel bad. Not because she doesn't like me or because she has a problem with me. The fact is, she has a problem with herself. She is angry and disappointed with herself. She is a perpetual victim and the only means of "action" she knows how to take is to strike out at people around her because she is overwhelmed and frustrated by the "system". All of us get overwhelmed at some point in our lives. This woman has very few coping skills to navigate through many formal processes because she believes herself to be powerless. Her problem isn't really with me. Her problem lies with and within herself.

A Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus started a micro-lending program in Bangladesh. He focused the lending practices on the poor. Specifically, he focused lending to Bangladeshi women. Why? His philosphy is as follows:
"They pay more attention, prepare their children to lead better lives, and are more consistent in their performance than men. When a destitute mother starts earning an income, her dreams of success invariably center around her children…When a destitute father earns extra income, he focuses more attention on himself. Thus money entering a household through a woman brings more benefits to the family as a whole."

What's all this got to do with you? It is important that you realize that it is ALL ABOUT YOU! As a woman, the current or future anchor of your family, you MUST focus on yourself. You MUST ensure that you are as fortified internally as possible. You MUST provide what you need for yourself. You MUST ensure that you have what you need. Not only does money entering a household through you the woman, benefit the family as a whole, but so does the idea of providing self care to yourself, self-esteem, developing coping skills and feeling empowered. These and many more things enter or stay out of your home, through you, for the benefit or to the detritment of your family: Focus on yourself first.

You, my dear woman, are the anchor for the world, for your community, for your home. Get what you need for yourself to feel good about you. Because when you do, you will NATURALLY do that for others around you. The better off you are as a woman, the better off your family is as a whole.

Focus on learning to navigate the "system". Develop the coping skills you need in order to get what you need for you and your family. If you succumb to your anger, you will fall into 'victimhood', inaction and chase your tail in a circle, getting nowhere.

I hear so many women talk about how they don't have time for themselves and must focus on their partners and children. The irony of it all is that they do their spouses and children a disservice by NOT focusing on themselves.

You want to give all the best you got to your family and your community? Then start by giving your very best to yourself first. Beautify yourself bit by bit, and the world around will follow. You really can't afford to not know that it truly is, "All about you!"