When I see a light switch, I have to flip it. When I see a button, I have to push it. When I see a hill, I have to ride down it.
Here is one of the cool things about having kids. Eventually, it is less about what you do, and more about seeing if they will do stuff instead. I know, kind of twisted, but I still keep my wits about me. I’m not asking them to catch this knife or anything like that…yet. So yesterday I took the three kids out for a walk. Me and a stroller for Charlotte (2) and then Bella and Jackson on their new scooters. As we were going around the neighborhood, Jackson was crushing Bella in scooter proficiency . She is younger, shorter, and not as good at scooters as Jackson is. That’s fine, she has two years to catch up to him. When she is 6 she will probably smoke him. That is just her personality.
Then we came around this corner and we found a hill. Not a big hill, but at 4 & 6 things are big enough and I knew that. So we walked to the top of the hill. I talked them through what to do, told them where to aim, and how to stop before traffic. I tightened their helmets and told them, “Via con Dios!” Jackson did great. His face indicated that he wasn’t so sure, but he made it. He loved it and was ready to do it again. Bella saw Jackson do it and it was on! As she shoved off the side my gut told me it was going to be bad. I should have been a parent rather than a cool older brother. Fortunately the crash wasn’t too bad. Falling half-way down the hill she hit both her knees and the palms of her hands. Her helmet flew off (which actually concerned me more than anything. Good job helmet! What am I paying you for? Hold on to her head!) She cried. She bled a little. And we sat and talked. I told her how proud of her I was for trying. She was brave and did a great job. I then told her that she was learning. She was learning how to ride a scooter and how to have fun. She was also learning not to trust her dad, but that is secondary.
I told her she now knew what not to do so she wouldn’t fall like that again. She picked up her scooter and did it again, and this is what we got…
Before we left, she did it one more time, and she fell again. I ran over to her and told her I was sorry she fell. She looked at me with a smile on her face and said, “I didn’t fall Daddy, I learned!” As always, I am amazed by my children, but today was a special moment that brought me back to my own life…
I have succeeded at some things and I have failed often. Every time I fail I get frustrated, angry, blame myself, blame others, and often times quit. When does it switch from learning to failing? At some point we are told, or we tell ourselves, that failure is not an option and there is no room for a second, third, or fourth try. Instead, it is pitch perfect the first time or move on.
I wonder what I have not succeeded at or haven’t created because I stopped due to failure? What I do know is this; of the areas in my life where I could claim I have had some level of success, it has rarely come the first time. It comes from practice, effort, tweaking, evaluation, and trying again.
Bella, your Daddy promises that the next time he fails (which might even be this blog post…who knows?), he will try again. You deserve a dad who learns. Not one who quits.