Ouch! Do you remember the first boo-boo you received on the playground asphalt? I certainly got my share of raspberries as a child but I vividly remember one of my first when I was in Kindergarten. A dreadful boy named Stevie had asked me to see-saw with him. I had never played on the see-saw before and I bravely jumped right on – only to have Stevie jump right off, with me in mid-air!
In that split second I learned three lessons. One was that it was up to me to try to minimize my fall because mom was not there to catch me. The second was that boys really are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails! I spent what seemed like an eternity in the fall and then finally, painfully hit the asphalt. Funny how you never really notice all those tiny playground pebbles until they’re embedded in your knee.
I learned a third lesson that day – about landing and then picking myself up. You can bet on my first bike ride that I headed for green — grass that is, soft and easier on the knees. And now that I’m a mother myself, I understand that there are certain lessons we must allow our children to learn themselves. We cannot always be there 24/7 to protect them so it’s best to arm them with the confidence they need to handle situations.
Educators know that we tend to learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. Even now as an adult I am faced with challenges every day – and still hit the proverbial asphalt on a regular basis. We all do – illnesses, money problems, trouble with the kids, rocky patches in our marriages. But my parents instilled in me the confidence to pick myself up and continue trying.
And so the cycle continues with my daughter and me. I’m not saying it isn’t hard for me to watch her go through tough times in life with friendship issues and the stresses of school and homework. I’m there to guide her but I know that she, too, needs to take her spills and hit the asphalt from time to time – and then pick herself up and dust herself off – and try again, a little wiser and a little stronger.
We as parents need to give our children the confidence and tools they need to face life’s challenges. And then be there to give them hugs and say that it’s okay when the inevitable boo-boos come their way.