Landon, the four year old in my life and I were discussing why he needed to wipe his own bottom. It’s necessary for him to learn, I explained because it’s part of being independent. He wasn’t buying my argument as he currently sees independence as something to be asserted when he feels like it and forgotten when he wants someone to do something for him. Typical behavior really.
I however, am really into independence for four year olds. As we discussed how he had to take care of this hygiene matter, he offered several reasons for why he could not accomplish wiping himself.
- It was way too hard.
- He didn’t want to do it.
- He wasn’t very good at it.
- He wasn’t going to be good at it.
He ended the discussion with a challenge. “Well, “ he said, “if you make me do it, then I will probably have to use way to much toilet paper and waste it and it will cost you lots of money.” (this last was offered in a sing song voice)
My challenge was bigger and he marched upstairs to take care of business.
Thinking about this later, I could see the arguments I have offered life many, many times. When faced with something new that seemed hard I have listed the reasons why I could not accomplish what was being asked of me.
When I was sitting in a dorm room trying to study for exams and write papers and realizing that the coasting I did all through high school wasn’t going to work….man, it was hard.
When I was a young bride waiting for my husband to come back home after a fight and I knew that I had been totally wrong and needed to apologize…man, I didn’t want to do it.
When I brought that baby home from the hospital without any instruction sheet or return policy and she cried and cried…man, I wasn’t very good at it.
When the receipts were all added up and the money didn’t balance and it was due to my mismanagement again…man, I felt like I was never going to figure it out.
It’s easy to feel hopeless. To hear everyone around you telling you how important it is that you make an effort, put yourself out there and just give it a chance.
Landon had the same hope problem. From his vantage point, there was no benefit to taking care of his own business. He didn’t like it and he couldn’t foresee that it would ever get better. As far as he could tell, it was not worth the trouble.
I understand. I’ve been there…probably as a preschooler and for sure as an adult. Many times I have faced things that seemed difficult at best and possibly insurmountable. The lesson I wanted Landon to understand was this…it is worth it to try. You might mess up, you might feel awkward, you might even not do a good job at first, but you must give it a try.