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iStress

November 12, 2009

I just learned a new word from my daughter as she was studying her vocabulary words tonight: “abecedarian” which means,

1) a person who is learning the letters of the alphabet, and 2) a beginner in any field of learning.

This word is particularly apt for me tonight.  I just bought an iPhone this week.  I’m still learning how to use it after years with my simple flip phone, which I only used to make phone calls.  No texts, no apps, no interenet; nothing but phone calls.  I can tell I’m going to really like this iPhone eventually, but right now I’m feeling quite stressed as I’m trying to learn a new system and sync with a relatively new computer that I haven’t yet mastered.

I can feel overwhelmed when I’m learning something new.  I keep reminding myself that learning is a process that takes time.  I continue to remind myself to have perspective and not lose sight of the big picture.  I try to break things down into smaller, manageable chunks of learning.  But still, I can feel my mood and behavior being affected.  One unpleasant interaction with customer service and I’m on the verge of tears.  I have to watch myself to not be too irritable with my family.  And I’m a pretty level-headed, fully functioning adult!

It reminds of what it can be like for children when they’re learning something new or faced with unfamiliar challenges.  My husband reminded me that the kids would just play with the new phone and learn how to use it with a sense of exploration and fun.  True.  When it comes to electronics, there is a huge generation gap between myself and my children in our approach to learning.

But I’ve seen each of my children learn new things which have caused them some stress.  My oldest loves to learn new things and usually throws herself wholeheartedly into whatever interests her.  If doesn’t come easily though, we might hear a bit of complaining about some external force that is blocking her path or some irritable comments directed our way.  My middle daughter, on the other hand, is much happier to cruise at a comfortable pace and avoids having to deal with too many new challenges.  She screams and fights (mostly with us) her way through her learning curve.  And when my youngest is facing a new challenge, she acts like everything is fine until she goes to bed.  Then she can’t sleep and the tears start coming.

I try to support and guide each of my children as they continue to learn and have new experiences.  Each requires a different approach.  Today I am reminded to try to give myself some of that same patience and nurturance that I provide to my children.  And someday soon, I’ll probably be able to text.

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