Ive gotten better at NOT glorifying the busy.
I’m back to forcing myself to acknowledge–-in the nicest of fashions—declining invitations or turning down work is not a result of my being too busy.
I’m saying no because it isn’t a priority right now.
It’s been hard—yet I find it easier each time I do it.
No isn’t a four letter word. Living with margins is OK.
Life has grown slow around here (*cue lackadaisical confetti*) yet, because slow isn’t necessarily *simple*, parenting challenges abound.
Ones which remind me of a book I read years ago—long before I was a mother.
I’ve appropriated the title as a reminder of sorts.
A loving nudge to myself when I’m tempted to focus on the child’s ROOTS and not encourage her to spread her wings.
The book’s very title, Blessings of a Skinned Knee, is a reminder letting our children fall & fail is, in fact, the most powerful way to encourage them to grow.
I parallel this growing process to learning to bowl.
When children are little we offer them small bowling balls and place bumpers over the gutters.
We lessen their load so they don’t grow too quickly depleted.
We fashion safeguards around them so they can experience life yet not get hurt.
As children get older we pass them heavier balls—yet leave the bumpers in place.
We strengthen their self-esteem in this safe fashion until, when they’re ready, we remove the bumpers and let them fly on their own.
Invariably they fall or fail.
The oxymoronic title Blessings of a Skinned Knee serves to remind us there are gifts in these
failings gutter balls.
Blessings I only grasped on an intellectual level until recently.
“May we go for a walk *alone*, Mama?”
The child asked if she could take Charming for a walk.
She’s eight. We live in Oakland. She’s not known for her ability to, uh, focus. And did I mention she’s eight?
I longed to say HELL NO.
I told her yes.
Yes she could walk him alone if she took a specific route and brought her Dad’s cell phone in case anything happened.
Five minutes after she left my phone rang. I answered it and she calmly asked if she could talk to her dad.
After he hung up he relayed what she’d told him:
She’d dropped his cell phone when Charming unexpectedly pulled and it had shattered. She was very, very sorry.
He and I were shocked.
She’d left a child who cried, blamed and made excuses if anything “bad” happened, yet when given freedom and faced with a problem she’d stepped up, owned up and not shed a woe is me tear.
It was the blessing of a shattered iPhone.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say when she returned she carried herself with more confidence.
The lean-in uber-confident stance returned.
I immediately told her how proud I was with how she’d handled the incident.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I panicked and was afraid you’d be angry, but I knew I had to tell you right away and so I did. That’s why I called.”
Experts say children gain authentic confidence when they learn to cope with failures or problems.
All I know is the experience gave her a confidence boost I never could.
She was proud of how she’d problem solved/made good choices in a bad (who doesn’t have the initial inclination to lie or hide the evidence?) situation.
As a parent Id felt the fear and removed the “life-bumpers” anyway.
She’d slid straight into the gutter and surprised us all by finding her own way out.
We debriefed (she brainstormed what she might have done differently).
I normalized (yep. Ive shattered my phone).
I shared tools (all the ways I make decisions so things like that happen less often).
More than anything her Dad and I were grateful.
Grateful we let her try to fly.
Grateful the failing was small.
Grateful what we’d known intellectually had been proven true:
Children gain confidence by having the opportunity to fail and problem-solve a solution.
There are blessings in these failures.
And gifts in shattered iPhones.