My sewing teacher looked like she was going to burst an artery when she saw the cross-stitch pattern on my apron. The next thing I knew, the apron sat on my head. I recall the humiliation but thankfully, none of my classmates laughed. Maybe they did not want to be in my position. I was in third grade but I knew what she did was wrong. How could a teacher not tell me nicely that the original fox pattern-turned-catlike was all wrong? True, my sewing was horrible, but did she have to humiliate me? I can’t recall what happened after that. All I knew is I hated sewing classes and probably all teachers. She made me feel that I was hopeless in my sewing abilities. I got the message that “I can’t” sew rather than “I can” sew with proper guidance. Perhaps this incident discouraged me to try harder in my academics.
Pretty much of my grades during elementary and high school were at best mediocre. Among the four girls in my family, I had the lowest average. I wanted to make my dad proud of me, to see his smile when he looked at my grades. Sensing my dejected look , my dad talked to me “Don’t worry. I had grades like yours too. In college, that is where I found out I was smart.” His words were like a light bulb.
There is hope. I can be smart.
College came and just as my father had promised, I found my path. My father believed in me where teachers failed to. Every day of my life, I commemorate my father’s memory by carrying his name attached to my married name. He made me believe that “I can” do it even when I wavered in my self-esteem. How many of us have that one inspirational person who made a significant impact in our life?
There are pointers to recognize a child’s self worth. Some do’s and don’ts shared by esteemed child psychologist, Dr. Honey Carandang are worth mentioning at this point:
1. Spot the child’s area of competence and start to increase his self-worth through that area.
2. Don’t label the child. Labels have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.
3. Don’t insult the child’s person. When criticizing the behavior, provide alternatives. Suggesting a different way of doing something is always better than saying, “You are lazy and you don’t know how to sew.”
Dr. Carandang adds: “A teacher, parent or significant adult has that power to build or put down a child’s self-worth, which is being developed with every interaction he/she has with the adult.” This reminds me of my favorite song “Greatest Love of All” popularized during my college days that I sang to my dad together with my siblings. The words of the song goes like this :
“I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”
Not about to be haunted for life with my traumatic sewing experience, I took up the challenge that I could actually sew something. I managed to come up with cross-stitch projects as I patiently breast-fed my youngest child. These projects are now displayed on my kitchen wall, a proud statement that the “I can’t do it” is a challenge they can actually take to “ I can do it” one day.
I’d like to believe that the greatest gift we can ever give to our children is a healthy and positive self-concept. This concept of self-worth is also what our country needs today.
This post is in honor of my parents who were also teachers. My dad Jose P. Lardizabal (Accounting / MBA teacher) and mom, Salustiana Veloso (English and Speech teacher), not only gave me the greatest gift of all but taught many students out there.