Upon entering the room, you’re surprised your child is standing. You realize a big milestone is about to occur. You don’t shout, “Sit down. You might hurt yourself!” Instead, you have someone run to get the video camera while you get in position.
You expect progress, and you show that to your child through your behavior and language. Positioning yourself four feet away with your arms outstretched, you smile broadly and use only an encouraging tone of voice. Focused on the goal, you communicate, “Come to Momma!”
One step. Then another. A fall. A second try will appear as a false start. Over the next few days there are missteps. Attempts. Half-steps. Fall downs.
These aren’t “mistakes” though. We would never tell people our child made a mistake trying to walk, even if he fell down on his tenth attempt. Rather, it is more likely we would announce his every attempt. We call our parents, siblings, and friends and perhaps even post it on Facebook: “Jared tried to walk today!” This is our attitude because we’re looking for progress, not perfection—for growth, not completion.
We know error-free walking is the goal. It’s possible, but only if it’s the destination. Perfection can’t be the journey. The journey must be built on faith in the possibilities and an expectation for good, better, and then best.
As you’ve noticed, children don’t crawl for long. They pull themselves up, walk around things, walk alone, skip, gallop, and eventually run. When they fall down doing any of those things, they almost always pick themselves up and keep going unless we react as if they should be upset. Gasping, looking at them with alarm, running toward them, and asking if they’re okay will likely cause the tears to flow even if they are not hurt by the stumble. Our reactions are often mirrored by our children’s.
Their goal to walk is accomplished and celebrated. At a young age, they long for progress.
What if, throughout their growing up years, we had a “Come to Momma!” perspective? What difference would it make if we could see progress even in the smallest of ways from our preschooler, gradeschooler, teenager, young adult? What if we expected them to stumble along the way and we didn’t consider that stumble a mistake? What if we stayed at four feet away, not eight? What if our arms are reached toward our children, not folded in front of us? What if we smiled instead of frowned? What if we had an encouraging, optimistic tone in our voices, issuing a request our children want to fulfill, not demands they can’t live up to?
What if our children had a “Come to Momma!” belief system? I can accomplish what my parents are asking me to do. Attempts aren’t failure; they are part of life. I can pick myself up to try again. Perfection may never be reached or even necessary because I know my parents will celebrate my progress.