My five year old little gal wears her baseball cap backwards. It’s cool this way, she tells me. Well you certainly are cool, I tell her back. As we are all working (or playing) in the yard, she tells her dad that she would like him to take her training wheels off of her bright blue sparkly bike. He continues digging and tells her to get his tool bucket from the garage and he will come help her soon.
She repositions her cap and runs to the garage. Have you ever noticed that kids run everywhere? Always. They just run. To the sandbox. To the swing. To the bathroom. To the house. She disappears into the garage and we keep working. Digging, moving rocks – you know, the fun kind of work.
After about ten minutes I tell the dad to go help her. I mean, I kindly and gently make a soft suggestion that he go and check on the girl. She’s ok, he says.
So we keep digging.
After about ten more minutes I see him walk over to the garage. He keeps his promise – he goes to help her. He always keeps his promises. He comes back out of the garage without her. She’s got it figured out, he says, and continues shovelling.
Now remember. This girl cannot tie her shoes. She can barely sound out the word “cat” and she requires falling asleep in our bed because she’s too scared to be in the room next door. She can count to 14 then mixes up the next few teens. But by golly, that child found the right tool in the mess and mix of mismatched tools and figured out how to take off those training wheels. Out she paraded from the garage, pushing her newly undressed bicycle, in all its big-kid two-wheeled glory.
She figured it out.
It’s funny, really. Exempting mega life crisis and traumatic events that require a completely different set of suggestions, most things in life are, well, figureoutable. Motivational speaker Marie Forleo coined this unword and uses it to explain that most situations we face are ones that we can figure out, work through, excel in and get past. We just need the time, effort, and correct knowledge.
When we step in and “do it all” for our kids, they are robbed of the opportunity to learn this life skill through practice. Instead, they learn that they are NOT capable of figuring things out and that they need someone else to do it for them. Someone more knowledgeable, capable. Alternately, when we allow our kids the space to learn through trial and error and mistakes and successes, they learn that they can accomplish what they set their minds on. That they are able to figure things out. That they can have goals that they can reach.
Of course, stepping in to provide some guidance and suggestions and proper tools is key in many situations. I wouldn’t expect my ten year old daughter to be able to write a symphony (let’s be honest, we are teetering on mediocrity in this home) and my eight year old son cannot make a business plan for our company.
But they CAN learn that they CAN learn.
Check out the great podcast on Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations, episode that aired Tuesday, May 21, 2019 where motivational speaker Marie Forleo explains it in an entertaining and impactful way.
Marie also has a book called, surprise surprise, “Everything is Figureoutable,” available for preorder here:
Now. I think I will go have an Epsom salt bubble bath as my kids are trying to figure out how to change the oil in my van.