One of the most fun and nerve wracking milestones for a little one is walking. When they begin to walk they look like they have on heavy boots stomping through the mud, the movements are so exaggerated and adorable. They are wobbly, and any little turn around or step over a toy in the floor sends them tumbling down.
But the look on their faces...if we could just bottle that up. Or, just take a mental picture, and engrain it forever in our minds. They are so proud and excited, and sometimes even surprised at what is happening.
If you are a first time parent, maybe you can relate to the parental response to want to hover a bit. The next level proofing the house now that everything seems dangerous if crashed into. You may want to try to catch them, or if you resist...accidentally let out a gasp each time they fall.
Then, soon enough, you learn and identify the proofing that really needs done isn’t so big...maybe the coffee table and a few other areas are the major adjustments you make. You get a few more gates installed, and you are feeling a little better.
You learn quickly that you can’t always catch them when they fall. It’s a full-time job. You also learn that you don’t need to. Those two chubby hands usually fly out in front and baby hops back up, ready again. You also recognize your response. A gasp turns into more cheering and reassurance.
You are happy to successfully have navigated this milestone, and before you know it, the falling happens less and less and that season has come and gone. But don’t you wish that we could use that season, remember those moments, to help navigate the harder ones to come?
Bullying. Let downs. Recognizing that sometimes people do bad things. “Friends” gossip. They didn’t make the team. Whatever it is...I bet you proofed for that more than you know. I also bet your response makes a big difference. And you learn quickly, you can’t always catch them when they fall.
So, you teach them how to recognize their feelings and apply coping skills. You model a faithful life through your own experiences, and you have conversation about it. You encourage. You listen. You are real and supportive.
And they still fall. They will.
But, they get back up, excited for life again. Proud of themselves. Ready to face what’s next.
And before you know it, this too has passed. You’ve helped them learn how to walk through life. The ups and downs, and everything in between. They will still need you, but the circle will complete itself. Now, they are ready to teach another- a friend, their own child, a niece or nephew...
....fall. Get back up. Fall, get back up. And each time you will learn something. Each time you will be better prepared than the last. You will fall...but you will get back up.