Big lessons from my pint sized toddler
I bought my son a little red plastic bike when he started walking at 8 months. He had broken his sister’s record of the fastest walker at 9 months. The bike did not have pedals and he was required to move his feet in order to get the bike to move. He just couldn’t figure out how to move his feet and the bike at the same time. He would then ask his older sisters for help with his boisterous blabbing and hand gestures.
At first, his sisters were excited and happy to help. My 8-year-old would push the bike with him on around the house and he would giggle with excitement. My four-year-old would get on the bike with him and move around. The bursts of laughter soon became tears.
When his sisters were tired of pushing him around and wanted a break. He would try again on his own to move around and would then scream aloud in utter frustration when the bike wouldn’t move and his sisters refused to push him around. He didn’t want to stop as he was having fun but it wasn’t as much fun for his sisters anymore.
He is 19 months old now; he rides his bike effortlessly, he even stacks up cushions to make a ramp and rides his bike up and down his pretend ramp. Just riding the bike normally isn’t as much fun anymore. I looked at him and remembered when he couldn’t even get the bike to move let alone go up a ramp. I could see life lessons in his bike experience.
There are seasons in life when you feel stuck and no matter how you move your feet, you can’t seem to get the bike of life to move. You ask for help from friends and family, some may be happy to help, for a while and then they are tired and you are left to figure it out alone. You cry and scream in frustration, and that’s okay as long as you get back up and continue to try. Never give up on your dream even if it feels insurmountable. Most new experiences may feel overwhelming at first but that is not the truth. It does get better.
My son never gave up on his bike, he continued to try, until one day he moved his feet and the bike moved. He finally figured it out. He perfected it and now builds obstacles to make the ride even more exciting, no one taught him to stark the cushions up. He was able to discern that he needed to attain a new level and created an environment that enabled that to happen. He literally created obstacles and challenges by himself, for himself to accelerate his growth. Why then do we as adults shy away from challenges? I thought to myself. It was difficult for him to get the bike on the cushions at first, he had stacked them too high. I watched him curiously as he tried to ride up his heap, he then got off the bike to remove one cushion so it’s lower and he was able to get on.
His little mind was able to understand that he started his new adventure a little over ambitious and realized he had to start small and gradually progress on to higher height. He still falls from his pretend ramp from time to time, most times he gets up very quickly and continues to ride, other times he runs to me crying for comfort from the pain of falling.
On those times, it breaks my heart as a mum to hear his piercing scream from the pain, that I say to him stop doing that so you don’t hurt yourself, but as the words come out of my mouth, I’m reminded that I have just told him to settle for safe. While shields and protection are necessary, Safe isn’t going to improve his riding skills. Safe isn’t going to create excitement or adventure, in fact, Safe may overshadow his creativity.
We will run into difficulties in life from time to time especially if we are charting new waters which is a necessity for growth. Here are 3 ways to push past the challenges:
Defy the urge to quit. Persistence pays
Challenges provide the strength that propels us to crafting solutions that pave the way to future success. My son never quits trying to ride his bike, day in day out, he would sit on his bike and try again.
Quitting stops success dead in its tracks. I have had my fair share of challenging situations and the big red quit button appears so clearly in my exhausted mind but I remember all the things I enjoy today, like the car that makes my journey faster, the plane that allows me to make the adventurous trips to wonderful destinations, I imagine if the inventors of these innovations quit. We would still be stuck in the dark ages. Over the years as I continue to grow and experience life, I now understand that all challenges have an expiration date. Challenges are an unavoidable part of life. So I get up, I change the setting on that big red button from quit to quiet!
Do not overthink
As humans, we tend to try to make sense of situations when they happen. Whilst I encourage honest self-evaluation and introspection, overthinking the situation will make it bigger than it really is and may lead to paralysis of the mind. It creates problems that weren’t even there before. Learn the lessons to be learnt from the challenges, use it as fuel and keep moving as though there is nothing to fear.
Challenges are designed to bring out the genius in us. Stories of victory and triumph excite and inspire us only because failure exists.
In the words of Author Sarah Jakes Robert, we have to embrace the uncomfortable to become unstoppable.
Its okay to ask for help
I noticed my son never stopped asking for help. When his sisters didn’t respond, he would ask me, his dad or grandma by beckoning or holding my fingers and pulling me towards his bike. We should never stop asking for help, most successful people faced series of challenges and rejections. They just never quit. Adding a potent mixture of faith and prayer to the situation will provide the much-needed strength to push past the limitation.