Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I believe in quitting

Everyone tells me that it's important to learn to fall and get back up again, to struggle and not give up, to climb the mountains and conquer the challenges and face the fears and never quit.

I believe that to a certain extent.

And not so much in a lot of ways.

It's one thing to never try again and sell  yourself short when some little thing goes wrong or something is more challenging or difficult than you anticipated, or when you face persecution or trial. That's a mistake. And it's a mistake to say, "I'll never be pro at this so I'm not going to try."

But it's another to persist in something you really aren't good at and don't enjoy because you don't want to be a quitter or don't want to be embarrassed or can't see an easy way out. That's a waste of time.

And I firmly believe there is a time and season for things to happen, and pushing them out of season is as foolhardy as trying to make the apples ripen in the summer. It's just not time. So it would be wise to quit.

Watching my kids this week, that has really been driven home for me.  Daniel has been a WRECK since he started kindergarten. He cries or whines all the time, won't let me out of his sight--and preferably he wants to be touching me all day, which drives me nuts (I'm not a touchy person). He fights with the other kids, picks on them, and has suddenly developed a penchant for exercise unrighteous dominion over the other kids. And bullying. And competing. The joy of exploration and childhood is gone. The sense of peace and security he needs is lost. And it's been driving me crazy.

Obviously, the conclusion I came to was that Kindergarten is not good for Daniel, but he kept insisting he wanted to stick with it, like he was trying to prove something. But I'm not having any fun, and neither is he. So what were we holding on to?

Time to quit. There is no glory in pushing through it, in holding on, in forcing adjustments, in not giving up at the expense of all else. Would we really be glad we did that? Would it really be worth it?

No. Sometimes the very best option is to just quit. There is joy and rightness in being a quitter when it saves your soul, gives you peace, and frees you to pursue things that are right and good. If you waste all your time playing basketball mediocrely and never develop your real talents, what have you gained? NOTHING.

So today I sat Dan down and said, "You have to make a choice. Either you learn how to go to school by yourself in the next few weeks, or you have to stop going altogether. Maybe you are just too young this year and can try again next year."

He's insisted for almost 2 months now that he wasn't going to quit, but telling him he was too young put a new light into his eyes. "I'm too young," he said almost immediately.

Anda, listening in, said, "He's not too young. He's five."

"He's the youngest kindergartner this year," I explained. "Many of them are just turning six, and he just barely turned five. He can do kindergarten next year and be the oldest in the class by a few weeks instead of the youngest by 11 1/2 months."

"I'm the smartest kid in my class," Dan said. "But I'm too young." (He might not be THE smartest--I hesitate ever to claim that about anyone because in my entire experience of everything there has always been someone smarter, but he is one of the first in his current class to finish every assignment and he is bored out of his mind by the academics.).

The change in him was visible. Suddenly that old, unstressed smile appeared. He started bouncing around the house. He actually went to bed and right to sleep without harassing me for three hours like he has every  night for a month.

I guess he just needed an "out"--some excuse to quit that made it okay for him, that wasn't a blow to his self image or his understanding of what was going on. And being too young was sufficient excuse for him.

And what a relief for me.

So I believe in quitting.

Not every time.

But some times it's the very best decision you could ever make.

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