Have you ever seen a child “go off” in a grocery store? Tantrums can be quite the entertaining experience. Of course, I contain myself and refrain from smiling, as not to appear unsympathetic to the child and unfortunate parent who has to deal with the situation. I really do feel sorry for both parties in the equation, and was able to empathize with them all too well this past week.
Last Monday, I helped kick off the Soar to Success Summit, a five-day online professional development series. Teachers could watch an hour-ish interview with me (or about 20 other individuals) in preparation for the new school year. Having never participated in such an event, I didn’t know what to expect. My segment was featured on the first day, so when I woke up on Monday morning I watched it. Since we recorded in May, I wanted to refresh my memory of the content.
I checked my emails after viewing the session – and flinched when I saw 179 of them in my inbox at 8:45 AM. That number quickly roes and remained in the 350 range. Between individuals asking questions, ordering products, inquiring about staff development and signing up to view my blogs, my inbox was overflowing the entire week. Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful, but when an inbox overflows, behaviors often get ugly.
I have control issues, and clearly, I felt out of control. I am very particular about responding to emails, mailing out orders, and returning phone calls in a timely fashion – so, I had to be flexible – and I didn’t like it one bit. My wife picked up on the tension right away. “Are you okay?” she asked. “It’s great,” I said, “really.” “It might be good stress,” she responded, “but it’s stress, all the same.” She had a point. Stress is stress.
This is a point I often times forget. Just as my emotional inbox overflows, so too do the inboxes of the children with whom I interact – And unfortunately, the younger the child, the smaller the inbox. Not eating breakfast, missing a parent, seeing troubling adult behaviors, feeling unsafe – the list never ends. I’m thinking that when a child has behavioral difficulties, we need a perspective shift more so than a strategy. Perhaps we simply need to acknowledge that an inbox has overflowed.
What do I want from others when my inbox overflows? for individuals to be a bit more patient, understanding and tolerant. And this week served as a reminder that I need to do a much better job of remembering this lesson when working with my kiddos and their significantly smaller inboxes.
PS – The fun ramped back up when (surprise!) the session was re-aired yesterday. Huge thanks to Lee Anne, Cecile and my family for coming to my rescue and jumping into Amazon-style assembly line mode. We were able to mail out all items within about 24 hours of the time in which they were ordered. …And my sincere apologies to the US postal workers who twitched when they saw me and my package-filled crates darkening their doorstep each day.