“I just get lost,” she sighed. Her pre-teen face was creased with dejection.
Schoolwork is hard for her. She tries but often fails to live up not only to the expectations of her school, but also – and harder still – to her own views of perfection. She begins. Gives up. Procrastinates. Misses deadlines. Then needs to make-up what she had delayed as well as keep up with current assignments. School is a merry-go-round of stress and frustration.
“Lost how?” I prompted. Not only did I want to understand more about what she’d meant (rather than assume I knew it), but one of the things we’d been working on is expanding her ability to narrate her feelings and perceptions, explain and communicate her needs.
She glanced at me, not quite in irritation, but almost.
“I’m not being tricky,” I smiled. “I really want to understand.”
“Fine,” she sighed again. Her brow furrowed as she thought, and she reached over to the pad of paper that rested on the desk between us. Doodling can sometimes help make paths for words.
She scribbled for a moment, then her breath deepened and she flipped to a new page on the pad. “It’s like this,” she said.
She drew a labyrinthine squiggle that turned several times onto itself. Added another squiggle that sprouted from it, then another, and another. Sketched a stick figure at one end of the criss-crossed creation and a bulls-eye at the other. Looked up at me to see if I’m still paying attention.
Very much so. I smiled encouragement.
“I have stuff to do and I think I know how, but I start doing it and then I get stuck,” she moved her finger over the squiggle till it ‘hit a wall.’ “So I go back, and I try another way … and I get stuck again,” her finger slid on top of the paper to another dead-end.
She looked up again. Her eyes were bright.
“So I get lost …” she swiveled her finger around the squiggly lines in a half-aimless, half-frantic manner. “It’s too hard. I give up.”
“I hear you. I really do.” I nodded, lifted my pen, and drew another squiggle around hers, connecting the pencil figure with the bulls-eye. “We need to find a better way. A way without a maze.”
For The Daily Post