We Get To…

“Can I ride my bike around the block?” Rose asked at 6 am as I was getting ready for day two back at work.

“How about after school?” I replied, hoping she’d forget. There was no way she could make it all the way around the block on the pink tricycle she had just learned to pedal.

But sure enough, no sooner had I dropped my bags after coming in the door (a pandemic perk is my husband is working from home, so he had already picked the girls up from my parent’s house) and Rose was asking to ride her bike.

When we got outside, I suggested we just ride in the driveway. “No, I want to go around the block,” Rose insisted.

“Ok,” I said thinking we’d get to the end of the driveway and she’d realize she couldn’t do it. But Rose surprised me. She kept pedaling, slow…very slow and steady. Eventually, we had made it to the end of our street.

“Do you want to keep going around the block or head back home? I asked, already knowing her response.

Without hesitation, we were on our way around the block. “I’m so great at this,” Rose kept repeating, never realizing her sisters, up ahead, going back and forth on their scooters as they waited for us. As I watched Rose’s persistence, I focused less on her turtle pace and more on her attitude. Here she was, having just learned to pedal, embarking on a task that, at first, seemed impossible to me- yet she always believed she could do it. When we approached obstacles, slight inclines, veering off course into the middle of the road, or at times getting stuck-Rose asked for help and just kept pedaling with pride.

I started to think about what I could borrow from my three year old as we approach a new school year, sure to look different than any other school year. What if I stopped thinking about the obstacles and the challenges, but instead switch my mindset. Instead of constantly saying, “I have to… teach virtually, squeeze in coaching, figure out how to engage kids in new ways, wear a mask…”, I could say, “I get to…” This year, I get to teach a group of first graders and think about what school could look like online. This year, I get to teach kids and coach teachers in work I love and believe in. This year, I get to go to school and work with people that will support me and I love to work with. This year, I get to work in a school that has done everything they can to make it safe.

There will be obstacles and inclines for all of us this year. Let’s be kind to ourselves and remember that we can ask for help. There will also be moments of joy and triumph as we all take on new learning and watch the kids in front of us continue to grow…because we get to be their teachers.

17 thoughts on “We Get To…

  1. This is a great metaphor. I admire that you’re taking on this year with that spirit. I remember many a walk with a similarly-paced but supremely growth-mindsetted young person. I think we all need to approach this year with that optimism, energy, determination…and obliviousness to the obstacles.

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  2. Rose is wise beyond her three years! I love your message but also love the image of Rose riding you describe. I hope we can all keep up the positive mindset.

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  3. What a celebratory yet calm slice. I celebrate Rose and her little legs and big spirit as pedals and pedals and pedals. Then I feel the calm as you recognize your own shift in mindset to “get to”. Each day we will celebrate what it is we “get to” do because we are together – even if it means “get to” conquer obstacles together!

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  4. I love Rose’s persistence and can-do attitude! I’m with you on the mindset. It’s going to take a lot of intentional talking to myself but I am determined not to focus on the negatives this year. This was a lovely story and reminder!

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  5. Reframing as “I get to…” is beyond helpful! That’s how I approach Hebrew school with my daughter.

    Btw: Ari is riding around the block now too. So cool how our little ones seem to be doing many things at the same time! Isn’t development fun to watch?

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  6. Tell Rose thank you! Because of her teaching you, I wrote THIS YEAR, I GET TO on a post-it note and hung it in my “bedroom classroom”.(Here in VA we are all-remote teaching.) When it feels hard, I’m going to picure Rose on her tricycle. Thanks!

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  7. Such a great analogy for shifting a mindset – “I get to” vs. “I have to” and embracing the challenges, for that is how we all grow. I love the happy pink of that trike! The color means love of oneself and of others, harmony, inner peace, approachability .. the very vehicle we need for navigating this year. We learn so much from the kids. Joy in your daily journey, Jessica – here’s to pedaling on!

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  8. This is just the kind of wisdom I needed – yet she always believed she could do it. When we approached obstacles, slight inclines, veering off course into the middle of the road, or at times getting stuck-Rose asked for help and just kept pedaling with pride. Rose is going to be my mentor for this year! I need to learn to ask for help and then just keep pedaling!

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