You remember that post I just made about striving toward not being embarrassed by your deficits or mistakes? I had an excellent opportunity to model this for Thor this morning. That is, I had to make the choice between bursting into tears because I was so embarrassed, or laughing along.
I am delightfully dyslexic, which means that not only do I need to double check anything with a string of numbers, and not only do I get to read things a few time in a row before clearing up that what I just read did not say, “Kelly Clarkson bought a basset hound (as I read this morning),” but “Kelly Clarkson on her engagement,” but I also have a ridiculously difficult time with knowing left from right, and I have a really hard time with deliberate, choreographed movement. If you tell me to move my right arm and my left leg at the same time, I really need to stop and think about how that works. This is why it is so much fun to stand behind me in Tai Chi class, and why it is so dangerous to be on a dance line with me. I’ve come to terms with this. I’m okay with it. I can usually laugh at it. I know it looks funny. More, I know how idiotic I look when I am trying to move my limbs to choreography. I have seen the look on my face in a gym mirror–I look like a slack-jawed moron. I would laugh at arms swinging around that face! I would especially laugh at the Frankenstein Monster stomp I do with my feet.
We went to puppy training class this morning, where we were learning the Stay command. To do that command, the instructor had us hold treats in our right hand, and the clicker in our left hand. We were to put one foot down on the dog’s leash, raise our right hand to signal Sit. Then, we were to raise our left hand, give the Stay command, step our right foot back and forward, step our left foot back and forward, and if the dog didn’t move, click the clicker with our left hand while holding the stay signal, and leaning down to give the dog a treat with the right hand.
So, I can do about two of those movements without practice. The rest? Oh my lord.
One by one, each of us worked with our dogs while everyone else watched. I say each of us. I was pretty much making my moron face and confusing the stay out of Hoo. The trainer called me out, had everyone else sit down, and spent the next five minutes training me to move. She was clearly frustrated with the grown-up who couldn’t even do the robot and move her feet at the same time, and everyone had started to giggle. For the first time in a long time, I felt my eyes tearing up.
I can’t blame the teacher. I mean, how hard is it to move your right hand, then your left hand, then move your feet? For most people, not hard at all. For me, next to impossible without a lot of practice. She doesn’t know me, or my issues. I just looked like someone fooling around. And because she was incapable of making it clear to my brain, she felt frustrated, and she she acted out a little.
Anyway, I really wanted to cry. I really wanted to cry and leave, and just take my kid and my dog and go home and practice in private, using the internet to guide me until I figured it out on my own. But I remembered the boy and I tried to laugh along and roll with it. I never got it quite right, but Hoo did. As long as he’s smarter than my janky arm movements, we’re good.
When we got out to the car, I told Thor, “That was really embarrassing.” He asked why. I said, “Did you notice that everyone was laughing?” He said yes.
So I asked him, “Do you think they were laughing at me, or with me?”
He said, “With you. Because you were laughing, too. And you looked really funny!”
I agreed, and explained I hadn’t felt like laughing. I had felt like crying. I asked him, “What do you think would have happened if I had started to cry? Or if I had gotten angry?”
He said, “They would have laughed more, or gotten upset.”
“Right. So, I laughed even though I was really embarrassed. And also, I laughed because I know I looked funny. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. It’s okay to look silly. The important thing is to try hard, don’t quit, and don’t let other people make you feel funny.”
“Sorry I laughed at you,” he said.
“That’s okay. But remember that when you feel like you want to laugh at someone.”
He said okay and patted my arm. Hoo licked me and laid his head on my arm. We went to Whataburger for taquitos.
Listen, I’m still embarrassed about it, but maybe we all learned something. Thor got some more clarification on laughing with and at, and got to see me in a situation. I got to remind myself that perfection isn’t possible. Hoo learned a version of the Stay command. I’ll practice the Doggy Hokey Pokey, and we’ll get it worked out.