Friday, February 27, 2015

What I've Learned from the Dress Seen Around the World

So last night, with the rest of America, my family debated over the color of a dress that was posted online. It started with Timmy showing me the picture on his phone and I clearly saw a white dress with gold lace trim. He agreed with me, but said that Ryan saw the dress as blue and black. Blue and black? How can that be? Where does he see black? The conversation continued through dinner. Chris came home and the kids showed him the picture. We were a house divided. Three of us saw a white and gold dress and three of us saw a blue and black dress. We were all adamant as to what we saw. I couldn't understand how Chris saw a blue and black dress and he clearly didn't see the white and gold dress that a saw. Then on Facebook, there was post after post about  the color of this one dress. How can so many people clearly see blue and black while others were seeing white and gold?

Then the conversation continued at school. I heard middle schoolers talking in the hall as they stood at their lockers debating the color of the dress. A science teacher in the teacher's lounge was running copies of an article about the science of the color of the dress. She was going to add it to her lesson for the day. Is it our eyes that see the dress differently or is it our brains that process what we see differently? I'm not really sure of the science. But I saw a different lesson coming from this national debate. I had said  that it would also make a great advisory lesson on perception. Our middle school has 20 minutes of advisory every morning. We do mini-lessons on growth mindset, literacy, guidance, and sometimes we just try to get to know our kids better. 

Perception: 1. the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses
2. a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression

This was the lesson that I saw because I so desperately want to see a blue and black dress, the one that Chris, Ryan, and Molly were able to see. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn that different people can be looking at the same exact thing, person, or situation and see something completely different. Maybe, before we tell the other person that they are crazy, we can step back a moment and think of the other person's point of view, that it is possible to see things differently and to value their opinion. Maybe we could ask the simple question of, "What do you see?" Perception is understanding and interpretation. Maybe we need more than one perception of something in order to really understand it.

Last night, Shannon and Timmy who only could see a white and gold dress, can now see the blue and black dress and can even flip back and forth to the white and gold dress. Originally, their heels were dug deep that the dress was white and gold, but as time went by, they walked away from the picture and when they went back to it, they were able to see the very same dress differently. They saw what other people were able to see. 

How many times in life have I needed to walk away from a problem or situation, needed to "sleep on it" so I could get a new perspective in the morning? Shannon went through one of those situations this week. It was a situation with  disappointment and sadness. As her mom, I tried to be supportive and guide her. But after she "slept on it," she had a different perception of the situation. Today at work, I talked to friends about her. Asked their opinion. I wanted to go home to her and be able to help her and support her. But when I got home, she had it all figured out. She had a new perspective of the situation and what was a bag of lemons just the night before, she had made into lemonade for herself. Today I told her how crazy proud I am of her, of how well she handled herself. She and I don't usually see this world the same way. Each of us has our own way of navigating this life of ours that works for us. What works for her, doesn't necessarily work for me. We have different perspectives. But there is nothing that beats the feeling as a mom, when one of your kids does something that amazes you. Just when I'm ready to throw in the towel with this whole mom job, when I question myself for the 9,547th time whether I am doing the right thing, whether I am making the right choices, they show me that everything is going to be alright.

They give me a new perspective!