Whole Living Daily

The Power of Positive Thinking...and All That

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PHOTO: GILLIAN MACLEOD

My son has never been a fan of school. Since the second grade, every day has begun with a debate about why it’s important, necessary, and, um, the law to attend. What began as a young child grudgingly listening to logical parental explanation of the virtues of establishing good study habits and learning the nuances of group interaction has morphed into (his) vehement insistence and (my) calm objection to the idea that 1.) he's not learning anything new, 2.) he's not learning anything that he can apply to everyday life, and 3.) everything that is being taught continues to be dumbed down, à la No Child Left Behind, and therefore not challenging or interesting enough to retain.

He is an honor roll and AP student on the fast track to business school. He works at Pac Sun, a clothing company that he has every intention of becoming CEO of one day. He's respectful, albeit argumentative—his points are usually valid and have lately become very hard to dispute—inquisitive, and reasonable. Regardless of his strong aversion to school, he's an incredible student. He just has trouble seeing the positive side of things, which is where I come in—with guns blazing—to try to change his perspective.

I admit to my child that I have not always been a Pollyanna, that over the course of many years—mostly, more recent ones—I have trained my brain to go from defeatist, which is very easy to maintain, to pulling out the one point that I can gain something from, whether it's insight, new knowledge, or plain 'ole recognition of just how some things happen to be. Instead of focusing on the kids who are not your friends, who seem less mature, and who have little in common with you, I'll say, see them as a challenge to figure out how best to navigate the stormy sea of multiple personalities, which will continue in other aspects of life for life. Instead of hanging onto the lingering misery of having to go to school every day, look forward to graduating in one year and going to college where you'll meet new, more like-minded individuals.

I know that it's not an easy transition to focus on the good side of things when one has been so good at focusing on the bad, but I am confident (of course) that he will have his aha moment, eventually. I'm also certainly no fool who thinks my lecture series will be digested each time I initiate a topic; in fact, more times than not, what I say falls on deaf ears. I am, after all, neck deep in the years of knowing less than my kids.

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