My Hedgehog


There’s nothing quite like hearing the truth out of your four year old’s mouth at dinner time on a Wednesday night. Tonight, as I poured water and sliced delivery pizza, I mentioned I didn’t think the air conditioner was cooling very well. Perhaps it was the stifling Mumbai air seeping in through our poorly sealed windows or the crazy level of activity that erupts just before the five of us manage to sit for dinnertime prayers, but either way it seemed unusually hot.

And I said that. Out loud.

The second the words fully tumbled out of my mouth, Stella turned to me and said, with the confidence only the baby of the family can manage, “Mama, stop complaining.”

The soundtrack in my head was immediately filled with the sound of a record screeching to a halt.

Did she just really scold me for complaining?

The one who inspects every slice of apple for even the slightest imperfection?

The one who insists on only eating breakfast out of the turquoise bowl?

She who cannot be bothered to even hang up her backpack without melting into the floor Wizard of Oz-style?

I’m the complainer?

The say denial is usually the first response.

As Stella’s statement echoed in my ears I was clearly reminded about a concept we’ve been studying in one of my professional learning communities. The hedgehog concept examines the way that passion, ability, and economic gain can intersect to create a central vision for an organization. It’s this focus and unwavering commitment to a singular plan that helps take groups from meh to incredibly successful.

As my littlest called me out for grumbling about such a ridiculously not-real problem problem I was struck by how much my life could easier by adopting a version of the hedgehog concept in my personal life. To have a small, clear and consistent image by which I make most decisions. I don’t need to load down my to do lists and create exceptionally lofty and complex goals. If it’s not within my hedgehog, its not happening.

Obviously that’s easier said than done. However, as we stare down the end of March and see April, May and June on the horizon (otherwise known as often the most painful months of a teacher’s year) it seems that the hedgehog idea-especially a hedgehog that focused on being positive and seeing the good in any situation may be particularly useful.

I’m not typically one to shore up my life with unicorns and rainbows, but I do have to admit that the idea of my four year old calling me out for complaining p ut it all in a new light. These last few months are long, but to fill them with nothing but heavy and tiresome words hardly makes any one feel better about any of it. So for now I’m going to focus on my hedgehog and the let the rest fall by the wayside.

And if everyone else could play along, that’d be great.



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