“I can’t” usually means “I won’t”

As a mom and teacher and cook, I’ve heard “I can’t” so many times, I’ve lost count.  Here’s a sampling:  “I can’t eat tomatoes (or insert other God-created food)”, “There’s no way I can clean my room”, or “I can’t read that…it’s too hard”.  I’ve got their number – they’re looking for sympathy…and a way out.  Too bad they’re stuck with a lady who believes more for them than they do for themselves.

Before you think I’m a harsh task-master, I know that a number of tasks are legitimately too much for someone to handle; but like most moms, teachers and cooks, I’m not asking for something I don’t think my young charges can handle.  They find it hard to believe that I’m actually asking them to do something that I believe they can do, based on what I know about them emotionally and intellectually.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I’ve had students who either believed about themselves, or had others tell them, that they couldn’t.  The work was too hard or they weren’t capable.  Well, we changed that.  One such student will hold his own in his post- high school classes and no one will guess that not long ago, it seemed that he couldn’t.  We have a reading program in our house that everyone must read at least one book a month.  Not doing so earns you 2 weeks free of all distracting screens.  How sweet, right?  It downright scares my kids.  The thought!!!  Well, I gave my son a 700+ page whopper to read and a few, including him, thought it was a little much.  Guess who’s reading for hours each night?  Yep!  He CAN!  (I already knew that.)

Don’t even get me started on when my kids tell me they can’t eat carrots or bananas or broccoli.   I’m still trying to put words to those feelings.  Anyway, I’m inspired by people courageous enough to tell themselves that they can!  It inspires me!  After all, “I can’t” messages are often meant to be overridden.  When I was on the platform with ziplining gear on, the thought crossed my mind [strongly]!  When I took an accounting job for the summer even though I don’t even balance our checkbook, a few loved ones thought, she can’t.  But last night, I did payroll.  Oh how far we can come when we tell ourselves we can.

So, Son Two has just come home and feels one of his classes is going to be one long struggle uphill.  He’s probably right, but when I said that he might get a little outside help, he said no…quickly followed by, ‘I’ll just have to work harder.’  Maybe he’s finally getting the message that I’ve been telling him for years:  you can do it.  And I want to be right beside him showing him that I’m doing it, too.

 

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