Monday, September 2, 2013

on butterfly wings and roaring lions

He doesn’t want to try hard things.  When he doesn’t understand or it doesn’t come easily, he wants to give up, going back to something he knows, to the safety of the familiar.  Inside, this war wages,  the adventurous dreamer wants to shout, Try it! Don’t be afraid! YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS! I want to shake it free, the resting brave and fearless in him, the belief that with work, he can do anything.  But he’s always been cautious, slow to embrace what isn’t his own idea.  The entire world is discovered and understood at his own pace, while imagination soars.   The creative mother in me understands that and wants to protect that light in him, the tender speed at which he moves and sees and learns and plays, uninterested in timelines or charts of progression.

He’s pensive and feels deeply, a soul at peace, unless he’s pushed too hard or he senses tension.    He’s wild and happy, eager to make people laugh and smile. Then stubborn, in a rooted, brooding, silence, the most dangerous kind.

His father often sits down with him and says, “I understand, because I was just like you, when I was your age, I know it’s frustrating when...”  For he sees the young version of himself in our son.

How do we encourage a little bird to test out his wings, while protecting its fragile spirit?  Oh, it’s a monster of an idea, that we are entrusted with these wild and wonderful creatures, with the roar of a lion hidden beneath the fragility of a butterfly wing. (sometimes the opposite.) And the world is capable of so much good and so much evil.  As are we. 

This morning, we wrote the alphabet on a large white sheet of paper and used found objects to mimic their shapes. He found a stick of artist’s charcoal and started to draw.  After a while, on his own he began writing a few wobbly letters, something he hasn’t done without instruction. In that moment, I wanted to proclaim all the reasons why I knew he could do it and why he just had to try and so many other bits of evidence for my case, but I didn’t, because that would have been mostly about me.  Instead, I softly asked, Is that an H? Did you make a P?  In that quiet knowing way, he answered, I did.

See, I wonder if these great reservoirs exist inside our children and maybe we have to say it a million times. Perhaps, we grow weary and wonder if it makes a difference. And sometimes, when we least expect, the water spills over the top, a burst of confidence trickles down, and they do the hard thing, they just do. 

You can do hard things, we say, and drop by drop, the reservoir fills. 

One day soon, he’s going to write all the letters and create the most unbelievable stories and he’ll finally figure out that whole bike pedaling thing, and we’ll watch him streak down the path like the brave rescue hero that he is.  One day that hard thing won’t be so hard anymore, but he’ll face something new, which will shake him and stretch him once again.

You can do hard things, we say, and drop by drop, the reservoir fills.

This parenting thing, it’s serious. It infuriating and mesmerizing. Just when we catch our breath, we face something new.  And each time, we’re quite certain, we can’t contend.  But, you know what I think?  What we tell these fragile, wild creatures, what we know to be true, it no different for us. 

The message, the reservoirs, the moments of break-through.

You can do hard things. 

We’re all wild and fragile creatures capable of achieving the unimaginable.  We are the butterfly wing and the lion’s roar. And we must fill the reservoirs.


Just Write


1 comment:

  1. I have chills and feel a little teary. This is exactly what I needed to read today.


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