When does it happen? That little ‘thing’ that creeps into our psyche and whispers, “I know you were born innately thinking you could do it all, but, welllll, maybe not.” It is subtle, unassuming and then WHAM you are left with a life-time of needing to sign up for hot-coal-walking expeditions to try to eradicate the misnomer. Crazy…really. Crazy. Really.
Nathaniel is 5 and it has somehow snuck in. These last few days, being a positive-thought-junky for as long as I can recall, I’ve heard more, “I Can’ts” then I ever dreamed possible. Does it urk me? You bet. But not perhaps for the reason you think. It has nothing to do with being upset with Nathaniel for doubting himself. I look to myself, where I believe the buck stops as parents, and ask, “How did I let this in?” I understand I am certainly not the only influence in his life and having a big bro who looks his age (being only 17 months older) but who can simply do more by nature of natural development, sends signals I cannot control.
But I can do something NOW. Now that I hear it, now that I feel his doubt, now that watch his angst and understand his wondering heartbreak. I can BE HERE and do my best to hold his hand as he steps out onto the coals to prove HE CAN.
So yesterday I wouldn’t take “I Can’t” for an answer. I just said, “You Can my love and when you’ve made your bed, breakie is waiting for you…..When you get dressed, then we can work on that Lego…..When you zip up those boots, we can hit the road to our Tae Kwon Do lesson.”
Did it come without fuss n’ stomp scenarios? Oh Noooo. My boy’s a feisty one, but I stuck to my guns. Did I want to dive in and help this doe-eyed baby of mine with the trembling lip? Oh yes. My heart wavered more than once. But did I know I would serve him better by guiding him rather than coddling him? You bet.
And at the end of the day, as we brushed teeth and washed up together, we reviewed.
No answer, just a slow smile spreading beneath bashful eyes.
“I’m so proud of how hard you worked and how you stuck to each task darlin’. Guess you are kinda like that little engine that COULD aren’t you? Maybe you wondered, even said, “I can’t” a few times, but then you worked at it and changed your thought to…”
“I Think I Can, Mommy…”
“Yes. I think this should be our new mantra (we have a family one, so this isn’t a big leap)…. “I know I can, I know I can, I know I can” and then give it a shot hmm? What do you think?”
Then we made up this cool secret hand bump each of our fists one over the other saying, ‘I know I can, I know I can, I know I can’. Then Mommy says, “Who Can? You Can. Who Can?” and then Nathaniel says, “Me Can!” and giggles wildly.
Done. All that I can do for now to silence the voices of doubt and hopefully set the stage for a whole life of talking it through, holding hands and holding hearts, proving time and again that we can do anything if we want it bad enough, believe it hard enough and take that step after step after step after step after step.
Just like Nathaniel, I doubt myself sometimes, and wonder if I can. Maybe you do too? But we know better don’t we, because we can talk ourselves in and up and out of the lie. We were born to experience all of life, that which calls to our heart and the only thing that will ever truly hold us back is ourselves. The thing that can get us there quicker, that can empower our children to get there quicker, is someone who opens our eyes and shows us that the light we possess, the callings that stir us, are worthy and right and possible.
I hope to be THAT kind of parent, mentor. I do believe you do too. And it is grand to share the journey with you.