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Flash mob flash point - Anna Rosenblum Palmer
“I’m going to have a miserable day.” He throws his words at me like a threat. Their impact is somewhat lessened by the fact that he is zipping himself into a full body suit of smurf-like blue fleece. It is the last day of school and he is beginning his end in tears just like he has done in the past. Last night I made a medium sized parenting mis-step. We were home, snuggling in bed a bit after bedtime, and he began silently crying. This kind of cry is not whined or screamed, it doesn’t have messy snot or heaving chests. The tears just streamed slowly out of him. This is what happens when he is struggling with something too big. So I asked him what was making him feel overwhelmed. And he told me. At the assembly for the last day of school the third grade was going to break into a flash mob. And he didn’t know the moves. I thought flash mobs were over…but I guess they have resurfaced in third grade classrooms and elementary assemblies. Back in time to torture my child. “Can you come get me?” He pleaded. “I would just have to miss half and hour.” If you pick me up at 9:50 and return me at 10:20 I could miss the entire thing. I stroked his hair with my free hand. I was silent, waiting for him to retract his request. We lay close together and he matched my silence with his own. It seemed like such a ridiculous small thing. I could walk across the street and rescue him. So I told him I would. As he exhaled and shuddered to calm I felt the tumult start inside me. Why would I have said this. After a decade of encouraging (and requiring) my kids to fight their own battles I was going to bail him out of this one. Just because it is easy to help him doesn’t mean it is the best choice. Rescuing him from these 20 minutes of public performance was robbing him of the opportunity to dance…or negotiate an alternative. Also- and I don’t know how relevant this is- I would never pull him out of school to avoid a math test he dreaded. The flash mob was part of the curriculum…and likely some kids’ favorite part. The next morning as he stumbled into my room like a sweet sleepy mole I saw the corners of his mouth curved into a smile. Usually he snuggles like he is only semi- alive in the morning but today he kisses me as he climbs into bed. “Thank you mama, thank you for helping me.” “I’m sorry Leo, but I changed my mind.” His slitted eyes flew open. “What? Why?” Here I began to stutter out some sort of multi-model learning philosophy and comparing dance to spelling, taking about different aptitudes and opportunities. He didn’t blink. “Why does that matter? I don’t want to dance, I don’t want people to ...