Last summer, Ridge had planned to attend a summer program at a local university for engineering. We found out that the daily schedule was changed to take up most of the day and I agreed with him that it might be too stressful. I was disappointed because I thought it would be a good opportunity.
On his own, Ridge made up a list of daily goals that he would do instead. Maybe he was trying to assure me that he would not just stay in his room all summer. It was a perfect example of self management. He soon became stressed as he did not always complete everything on his list and even though it was his choice he still felt rule governed.
I suggested that he re-write the list and prioritize a few things and create “optional” activities. He thought about it and the next day reported that he had indeed taken my advice and it was a more workable system.
I was so proud of him for superseding his default buttons and modifying his behavior and mindset to adjust to his own needs. This took a great deal of self awareness, reflection, and honesty.
How many times have all of us tried a new diet or exercise plan that was not practical to our lifestyle? I remember asking my brother about the best exercise plan a few years ago as he was a competitive triathlon guy. He said, “The best plan is one that you will do.”
Yesterday was Ridge’s last day as a freshman in high school. He seemed melancholy and I asked him what was wrong. He said that he was going to miss it! Holy Cow what a first!!!
I expected him to miss the order of the day, the systems in place for lunches, exercise and social time.
I was pleasantly surprised that he has made a few deep connections with some of his teachers this year. He especially liked his Spanish 2 teacher because he was a very consistent teacher that expected a lot from his students. He engaged the students with active responding and gave a tremendous amount of positive feedback. Ridge said that he never embarrassed a person but was totally willing to help them as long as they gave some effort. Sadly, some of the students preferred to be lazy and refused to participate. This became a big issue for Ridge. He regularly discussed his anger with the other students that were disrespectful to the teacher. On a few occasions he felt like he was close to a melt down in the teacher’s defense! I congratulated him on his self control. He overheard one girl say that she was going to tell her parents that the teacher assaulted her when she was mad. I was about to intervene at that point but I asked Ridge what he thought and he said she was just showing off to cover up her insecurities. Geez!
Not only did he learn a lot of Spanish, but he has learned some very important life lessons. A good teacher teaches so much more than they ever know. Thanks, Mr. Riley.
How sad it is that by the time kids get to high school, so many have already become totally shut down and bitter about life. Ridge thinks it is because they have been forced their entire lives in what to say, how to think and what to wear so they are acting out against the teachers because it is the only place they can. Ridge has never been much of a conformist and has always feared authority figures. He can differentiate and respects those authentic and caring people he encounters –not all teachers are power hungry bullies. He has learned how to manage by discriminating the personality types he meets and by adjusting accordingly. In the past, his fear caused him to generalize all teachers and administrators into one category.
I typed up a little plan this morning of activities that I thought he would like to do. Instead of forcing the goals, I was able to ask him what he thought about it and he seemed to be appreciative. He has learned that he likes a certain amount of order and planning along with his “scheduled freedom”. Sounds like a good idea for me too!
Daily Activities (5/7 days per week)
- Meditation-Deep Breathing
- Driving Practice
- Work on arena wall
- Fresh Juice
- Outdoor trips-tubing in the fiver, picnic, dog walks, state parks
- Read or listen to audiobooks
- ICES Machine
- Hot/Cold Shower
- Cook meal once per week
- Social get togethers
- Metal projects