Why one step is good enough for first step
When a baby takes its first step and falls, what do we do? We clap!
Not because it was easy, but because it was hard, and they tried. Effort and motivation, particularly self-motivation, are two attributes which people develop from a young age. Encouragement is like rocket fuel for people. If we treated babies how we treat each other sometimes, we'd be upset that they didn't take two steps.
So I won't be upset with myself that I've only taken half a step as a father because I don't really know what's going on yet. Let's consider why we treat our little sour patch children with such patience and kindness, so that we can continue to use the same wisdom throughout their life.
I like to think of human beings and their development like plants, and for the sake of this column, let's use a tree as our example.
Most people, when they think of trees, conjure up images of massive, wide-trunked, immovable shade-givers. Everything about that is true, but that tree started as something completely different, almost the exact opposite. Tender branches and limp trunks make for malleable saplings, able to be shaped and moulded into a beautiful end product. The longer one waits to make adjustments, the more difficult it is to address the shape and direction the trunk and branches are growing.
Children are much the same, they are human after all — just little. I've heard about the sleepless nights, the terrible twos, the even more terrible threes, but if we're talking about addressing behaviour, correcting a three-year-old is a lot easier than correcting a 13-year-old, right? I mean, one can't really talk back with any real fluency so hopefully you have an advantage there. Sure, there is screaming and tantrums and crying — at both ages — but there has to be a bright side somewhere in there.
I haven't been responsible for any human beings on a permanent basis before, so this is all theory right now.
However, I've fixed it in my mind that my children aren't empty receptacles waiting to be filled with knowledge, but are “a mine rich in gems of inestimable value” where proper education and guidance is able to reveal their true potential. Indeed, this changes the relationship between parent and child, student and teacher, caretaker and charge. How wonderful is it that this shift relieves us of the burden of filling our children with knowledge, and instead we are asked to discover and nurture their gifts and empower them to bring something new to the world. I wouldn't mind if either of my little girls has the secret to hoverboards or teleportation in their minds — can't wait to find out!
So when our children take their first step, the reason we aren't mad they didn't take two is because we know eventually they will, with our guidance.
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