While my mother was battling cancer a few years ago, she taught me a catchy little song I will never forget. Throughout all her painful treatments, she had learned to sing this song whenever she felt like giving up. She said it gave her courage and the mental energy she needed to keep up her fight.
The song goes to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?” with the words: “I don’t like it, I don’t like it. That’s OK, that’s OK. I can do it anyway, I can do it anyway. I’m alright, I’m OK.”
As irritating as this little ditty might be (I find it running through my head at random), the message is powerful. While acknowledging the difficulty of a situation, it empowers me to press on and realize I am capable of accomplishing hard things. What if we taught this to our children? What if students in this valley witnessed their parents, guardians, and teachers apply this to their own lives? What if we modeled for our young people that just because something is tough, we don’t give up?
Learning perseverance isn’t easy. Our culture is filled with messages of instant gratification — if you want it, you should have it, now. It doesn’t take long to uncover the underlying message of almost all pop culture: “You’ll be happier when you buy our ____.”
What are the effects of believing we should have what we want, when we want it? How has the allure of instant gratification set us up for discontentment and disillusionment?
Chances are, you know someone who gives up whenever life gets hard. You have probably shaken your head, thinking, “If only you would stick with this, you will really be glad you did!” But all too often, we see adults, teenagers, and children just throw in the towel when their effort doesn’t pay off immediately. It seems some of us are almost wired to believe that if-at-first-I-don’t-succeed, well, I probably won’t.
I think this is reversible, at least among our youth. Perhaps if we sing the “I DON’T LIKE IT” song, and we do it with a determined look on our faces, the children around us will realize their grown-ups are strong. They don’t give up. They work hard for what they want, and sometimes, it really pays off. And maybe the song will lodge itself deep in the minds of these precious young ones, and will pop up when they need it most.
My mom was a wise woman. Even though she finally lost her battle almost four years ago, she sang the song as long as she could. She died with her courage and determination intact, and I hope to live the same way.
Anni Hisey, who was honored in 2012 as a 30 Under 35 community leader by the Wenatchee Valley Business World magazine, teaches at Wenatchee Valley College, runs Academic Associates Learning Center, and Joyful Scholars Montessori Elementary. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org