Spinning – Some Like It Not

by Mr. Sheehy

My daughter loves spining, and I don’t like it, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Before I explain, let’s make sure our imagery matches: we don’t go to fitness centers to ride bicycles, and she’s not a ballerina, so when I say spinning I don’t want you to build hasty images of a woman on a bicycle or a ballerina spinning beautifully to music and not getting dizzy. Ellen’s spinning is a toddler’s masochistic curiosity about nausia and lack of balance.

She could decide at any moment that it is time to spin – I have no forewarning. “Ellen spin in her room” and she’ll wander into her bedroom, where there is plenty of room to twist, turn, and wobble about until she can’t stand up. Inevitably, she will demand after a few moments, “Daddy spin,” and I’ll usually respond with something like, “I can spin slowly.” She’ll up the ante: “Daddy spin fast,” and of course I give in, spinning a little, but I always stop quietly a few moments later and spin so slowly that I could never get dizzy. She’s smart, so I know I’m not fooling her; thankfully, my lack of enthusiasm for my spinning doesn’t dampen her own. She knows I enjoy being with her and watching her joy at a(mostly) harmless pursuit.

Granted, years from now I may have to answer a lot of questions from Ellen about why I won’t go on rides at the Central States’ Fair, but at the time I’ll think of another way to partake without participating.

I do the same thing in school with my students’ interests. I love asking them about their favorite movies, music, or television programs even though I rarely have more than a wee bit of interest in those things (“Who? What?” I ask. “Never heard of it”). But I listen and remember what they say because I care about them. Sometimes I look up groups or peek at movie trailers to see what they’re into, but I always retreat quickly to my own area of comfort. So far, I’ve found that my dislike of “spinning” does not interfere with my ability to relate to them. They seem to appreciate my caring enough to ask.

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