Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

October 2017

Nobles Parents' Newsletter October 2017

"FADE IN: PAINFUL MOMENT, FADE OUT: SHAME?" by Assistant Head of School and Head of the Middle School John Gifford



FADE IN:
SUBURBAN BEDROOM — LATE EVENING

THE FATHER is nodding off while reading in bed. He dog-ears the page in his book, The Blessing of a B Minus, places it on the bedside table before switching out the light.


FADE IN:
BREAKFAST TABLE — NEXT MORNING

THE FATHER
Em, I never heard how that first math quiz went.

EMILY
I never told you. It was awful. I hate math, I don’t understand anything the teacher is saying.  All the other kids get it.

THE FATHER
Come on, calm down. What did you get?

EMILY
Like...a B-.

THE FATHER
Hmmm. Did you ever get any grades last year below an A-?

EMILY
Don’t know. I don’t think so.


FADE IN:
SCHOOL DROP OFF — LATER THAT MORNING

THE FATHER checks that no other kids are around and kisses his daughter goodbye. He drives off but sees that EMILY’s athletic bag is in the back seat. He returns to school and brings the bag to the front office.

On route, he sees EMILY sitting alone. There is a pack of kids nearby laughing while EMILY sits to the side looking at her phone.


FADE IN:
SIDELINE OF ATHLETIC GAME — THAT AFTERNOON

THE FATHER arrives at the soccer field having left work early. JIM, whose daughter, LINDSAY, is on the team is there.

THE FATHER
Jim! How’s the game been going?

JIM
Good! We are up by three. I think I saw Emily get some time before the end of the first half.

THE FATHER
Is that Lindsay there? Boy, she looks strong!

JIM
Yeah, #14. She grew a ton...oh...come on, Linds!

THE FATHER
That was a nice goal.

JIM
She played all summer long...town team, a two-week Princeton soccer camp and had her working with a coach twice a week. But, but you know, she seems to love it!

FADE OUT


*  *  *  *  *  *

I’m guessing that if there is anyone left who made it this far, any remaining readers who have not abandoned my crude attempt at a screenplay, you are preparing yourself for a scolding. But, I don’t want to scold! My goal in writing these scenes was not to tell you to relax. I am not going to (overtly) suggest that you must embrace your child’s moments of failure. I won’t even warn you about an epidemic of overprogrammed children.

I wrote these scenes simply to call attention to what I believe is an understandable and universal feeling: At times, parenting can be incalculably painful. Every guardian who plays a role in the upbringing of a child witnesses their moments of vulnerability and failure and experiences great pain while doing so. Almost every parent would gladly accept great pain if it would subsequently skip over their child. If you didn’t feel this way as a parent, that would be more of a concern.

I am lucky that I have this job. It reminds me that it is in the best interest of my kids that I work to deaden pain that I feel on behalf of my children. I read articles that remind me that, if I were to insulate my children from all pain, they will be ill-equipped to deal with it when I am not at their side. I speak with wise parents (whose children have made it through the rough days of adolescence) who tell me that things often work themselves out if you just hold your kids accountable, continue to tell them that you love them, and support them in the areas that they want to grow. If I were not immersed in this world, I would find it exceedingly hard to avoid succumbing to the pain.

My hope is that, just by acknowledging that this happens (often), it will be normalized and easier to deal with. So, I acknowledge it: You’ll feel pain on behalf of your child that will be hard to bear. There will be times that you will have the strength to let them navigate the situation themselves and there may be times when you feel that you can’t. Please know that you have adults here at Nobles with whom you can share your concerns. We will always do our best to help strategize a plan that helps students through those inevitable painful times and even recasts them as teachable moments. 

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions for this newsletter, email Kim Neal at kim_neal@nobles.edu.