This morning on the way to school, Jack expressed frustration over his interactions with the other kids at recess. He has a really good buddy that he plays with, but he complains that the boy wastes playtime by spending too much time planning (and thus little time actually DOING). I tried to give Jack tips on how he could negotiate more playtime with his friend, including the idea that he suggest they take turns selecting and planning their play. He then said if he were to take that kind of stance, he was afraid he would be acting “too grown up.” And the other kids would know he wasn’t grown up!
I was a little taken aback. After all, when I was a kid I wanted to be grown up! Grown ups had the power, man. And, well, I was the big sister so I was used to being in charge and leading a group. Jack’s only done this by accident – he avoids being in charge and then gets upset when things don’t go his way.
I had a hard time explaining that if he wants to affect how things are done, he needs to act a little grown up sometimes. He doesn’t need to wait for someone to ask if he wants to take a turn – he needs to speak up and let people know.
He has no idea that if he just took the lead, others would follow. He has an innate ability to be a leader but he doesn’t realize it at all – which just makes him more appealing as a leader.
He ended up getting frustrated and upset with me. His reaction to my ‘help’ made me bite my tongue and reflect on the aspect of my personality that he seems to have inherited – a stubborn refusal to listen to others who tell you what you *should* do. (My little sister has this trait, as well. Maybe it runs in the family!)
Why should I do it that way? Why can’t I do it my way? There can’t be only one right way! I’m going to figure out a way that works for me!
And so, I had to acknowledge that my my kid is reaching a point where he is not looking to me for all of the answers. He is more solidly his own little person and he wants to think for himself and learn how things work instead of being told. And his intellect is at a place where he can piece a lot of things out for himself. I need to step back and let him do that. The more I try to ‘help,’ the more he will do the opposite of what I suggest.
Just like me.
It’s a little sad. There are so many things I’ve learned that I wish I could just TELL HIM. I wish I could save him the time of figuring these things out. Maybe he’d get where he needs (or wants) to be more quickly! Maybe he could have greater success than me.
But since I can’t tell him (even if he listens, he’ll either think I’m full of BS or he’ll become a young tyrant) I figured I’d write it here – the life lessons I’ve learned (and yet do very little with):
- Confidence will get you (almost) anywhere – even fake confidence. If you act like you know what you’re doing, people will usually believe you!
- Fear of an obstacle is usually the biggest thing holding you back – not the obstacle itself.
- You can usually get away with winging it – everyone else is making it up as they go along, too.
- Most people are too busy worrying about themselves to notice that you’re worrying, too. And those who are overly concerned with what you’re up to are going to run into their own problems pretty quickly.
- It’s better to try and fail than it is to live with the regret of having never even made the attempt. (You might have succeeded.)
- It’s pretty miraculous that people manage to stay alive. Seriously.
- You’ll be amazed by how often success is accidental.
- There are a lot of people out there who will want to hold you back for no reason at all. Don’t be one of them.
I know there are more and they will come to me (probably while I’m driving or trying to go to sleep), but this is a good start.
What do you think about my list? What wisdom would you impart to your child if you could?