In second grade, my son tested into a Center-Based Gifted program after a recommendation from his teacher. The program was offered by the county and transportation was provided, and it required a lot of shuffling and some sacrifices for our family, but he decided to give it a shot.
Third grade at his new school proved to be a tough transition. It wasn’t the work necessarily, or the school itself, or the other kids, or the teacher. In fact, it was hard to pin point one thing in particular that made him miserable. Even after working hard and making the honor roll, he still wasn’t happy.
Each morning I told him that there are times in our life that are tough. There are obstacles in our way. There are people who are difficult to deal with. I told him this year would teach him a valuable lesson in how to overcome challenges.
In September, he gave Center-Based Gifted another try for fourth grade. Each morning the same pep talk: work hard, be tough, don’t give up, you can do it. And each day he became more miserable than the last.
One morning he looked at me and simply said, “I’m not going.”
And I no longer believed the pep talk.
I laid out his options and let him decide what he wanted to do; a day later we were switching back to his old school.
We value tenacity so much in our culture. We value hard work and perseverance because those qualities are important for success.
But sometimes it’s empowering to quit. It’s important to know when it’s time to switch tracks and move onto something else. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses, call it quits and be ready to tackle something else.
Last week he brought home a stack of tests with A’s on them. But more important than the grades, he has come back to life. He’s happy again. Immediately after making the switch, it was as if a weight had lifted off his shoulders.
And really, looking at it objectively, the drawbacks were outweighing the benefits. He saw that. I didn’t.
So, I guess the lesson here is, never give up… until it’s time to quit.