Education: Getting it All Together–Make Boards Not Splinters

Combatting the Shininess Syndrome by Fitting Puzzle Pieces to Make Boards, Not Splinters in Our Efforts to Educate Our Children

Psychoeducational columnist and educational consultant Hildra Tague will journey with parents and professionals into The Shininess Syndrome–where we often get by with stress, feelings of failure, and expectations turned sour.

Ways to make more than splintered pieces of our approach to children and others who learn differently involve organization, expectation, and empowerment.

Help kids who learn differently be in the race, not out in space.

Many concerned parents are busily seeking help for children and doing a variety of “right things.” Yet at times we have a far off itch on our soul–not quite definable but surely aggravating.

This is nature’s way of trying to call our attention to the old truth that “splinters do not a board make.” Wouldn’t this be a fine day to get some of the specks out of our eyes and start being in charge of the flying splinters? We might even change that would (wood) to will!

One of the greatest challenges we face in working with students who learn differently is organizing the mass of help and choices without losing sight of the whole person–both in our child and in ourself.

We breathlessly march from place to place and ask ourselves “Are we ever going to have fun–yet already!?!!”

Organization, expectations, and empowerment are key concepts in bringing some ordered sense into all of this.

Organization need not be without some chaos. We can accept and cope with messes. Isn’t that what parents are for? And we are all parents, to the kids, and to each other.

Perhaps reflection is one key to organization. Such moments can happen and can be done regularly. The birds help me twice a week while I take out the trash and other days over coffee. It’s worth getting up a few minutes early for! Reflect upon sweeping up the trash of your situation and letting it go. Reflect on even your tiny successes–exponential growth may occur with the yeast of self-empowerment.

Expectation –And reflect upon honing in on a small but truly fair expectation. The more you do it the better your hairline scope will become. You’ll even learn to bite off a piece of roast rather than the whole roast when serving up your goals. You could even stir up some chaos gravy and season your bites with bits of the spices of reality. Ahem, aren’t many of your common spices poisonous if not taken in appropriate quantities. Wow, what a lesson!

The catch we find ourselves in when the bullets of necessity seem to be flying everywhere. I call this unrealistic expectation The Shininess Syndrome.

We’d rather have Norman Rockwell kids. They’re cute, and almost real, but they hold still! Reality for Mr. Rockwell didn’t keep changing but since it does for us, refocusing and fine tuning our goals is vital to our survival.

Empowerment —This Shininess Syndrome leads to myths which burst our bubble of empowerment. Parents might quit listening to their inner self, looking to experts for advice, forgetting that they are the yeast which makes it all work. Professional involvement can only provide the splinters without parental involvement to fuse those splinters together into a board. Parents turn all the input into strong wood of oak, and hope.

Two myths fostered by The Shininess Syndrome are (1) efficiency and (2) magic.

We wonder if everyone else is efficient and we are the only “imperfect” ones. What a lot of good this does for our confidence! “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line” applies only to geometry, not to life in general.

Life is more like a garage sale. One person’s treasure is another’s junk. And the only way to know the difference is to listen to your own inner yearnings, pain, sparkles, and logic.

Efficiency is mythical when applied to finding solutions. What works for your neighbor’s child isn’t obligated to work for yours. If a method or program isn’t successful that doesn’t mean you, or your child, have failed. I always tell people, “Mistakes are the stairways to the stars!” So when you fall in the mud, fuss a bit but not forever, rise to your feet, stretch. Next take a moment to wipe the bugs and muddy weeds out of your eyes and another to giggle. . . Then look around.

Maybe it wasn’t mud and you have but to hold on a bit longer, or maybe you need a pair of goggles, and some flippers to keep you from falling. Sometimes I’ve even stepped on water lilies instead of stones when crossing treacherous spots in the creek! They are so pretty, but I found they don’t hold me as well as they hold the blossom:-)

Magic is the other myth The Shininess Syndrome brings us. This can even be an avoidance of grief. Somewhere out there is a professional or situation or WAND that can make us all normal.  Perfect?  Boring?  Can it really happen suddenly? Do we really want that?

Doctor-hopping and changing schools each time we hit a snag are sometimes a sign of this magic thinking. If we want our beloved progeny to cope, forgive, have hope, maybe it’s time to regroup. How’s about we give it a try?

As I said, it may require a good try. Over losses that we don’t have magic power like on TV. Such miracles went the way of other genies, Poof. We need proof, not poor! But we can’t even get a sure fire itinerary! Lots to grieve over, and then move on.

I covered (1) good enough organization amidst chaos of daily choices and (2) aligning our expectations by letting go of our clutch on The Shininess Syndrome.

But the most vital may be Empowerment! We can, and are, doing it. We as parents are the captains of the team. They re qualified. Not ply do they have battle scars, but it’s time they got the accompanying medals.

Parents, bask for a moment in a feeling of your adequacy, and remember good enough is good enough. You don’t have to be perfect. Just listen to yourself–trust your strong feelings. Don’t look back or you might run into something. Keep focusing forward:-)

Pat yourself on the back. Smell the roses. Fuss at the thorns but for heaven’s sake–then move your nose away! Hang onto your memory of the fragrant roses. Believe in your child. Make affirmations daily about your progress and your prognosis.

Remember that Shiny is an intermittent phenomenon. So don’t pine away for it. It’s like the tinsel on a Christmas tree–we only see the shine because of the reality7 of it twirls and it alternates between dull and shiny! So does life, and it’s OK.

So tend to business when things aren’t shiny. Pick up the pieces. Hug yourself and others while you move on. But when the shiny comes no matter how small (a smile aftr school, a 5 point improvement, not going down in grades) grab onto it and celebrate.

Celebrate learning while you, and your child seek the goal of good enough to survive. Celebrate the shine while staying with both the work ethic and the dream of a fine future.

This may be the time in our lives to pull it all together to construct a strong future made of boards, not just splinters. After all, isn’t that what we call “The Great American Dream.”

Copyright 1990s by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.










About grantutor

Career educator in both public and private schools. Has tutored all ages. Writes about education, parenting, & seniors. Sings harmony with folk/rock group and a choir. Caregiver for spouse who dealt with Stage IV cancer. Happy person committed to nature and conservation of a green world.
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