When we make mistakes, we don’t have to be defined by those mistakes
Anyone with children can attest to the unique challenges and constant fear involved with parenting. Am I teaching my child the right ethics? Does he feel loved? Does she feel safe? Should I try to change this behavior now or will he grow out of it? In spite of these challenges, I took my 3-year-old son to the zoo a few days ago. 3 is a bittersweet age because his personality is becoming more prominent, but so are his desires, many of which are not age appropriate. Saying “not today” is a major mantra in my family right now. I have reflected on this following incident a few times and realized how much it brings me to a higher understanding of what I am learning and simultaneously trying to teach my children every day. We were looking at the black bears around several other zoo-goers. My son was finding it difficult to pay attention to the instructions my husband gave him; instead of looking at the bears and moving on to the next venue to make room for the others, he was standing at the bear enclosure looking around while several people lined up behind him. As parents, we try to guide our children instead of forcibly remove them, but as some parents might agree there is a time for everything. I went to my son and warned him that if he doesn’t follow instructions that I will have to pick him up and take him with me. He was upset and started to argue with me, so I picked him up, screaming and kicking, to a spot where we could sit down. He was upset for several minutes while sitting on my lap but apparently resisting. He kept yelling at me to take him back to the bears. I told him that he would get a chance to see them again just a few feet ahead since the exhibit was very large (I explained that in mere toddler terms) and that we would get up and see them when he is calm. He continued to yell to go back to the original spot he was in, but I told him that he lost that chance because his behavior was unacceptable. Again, for several minutes he was upset with me. I moved him to the next viewing area to show him that he could still see the bears from there, and he refused to look but instead yelled for me to take him back. I sat down with him, again, and told him that it’s okay for him to be sad. Then, I said that when he’s done feeling sad that we would move on.
“I picked him up, screaming and kicking, to a spot where we could sit down…”
As he cried in my arms, I looked back to the place that he was trying to get me to take him to and thought it might be easier than going through this process. However, I stuck to my plan and waited for him. Eventually, he calmed down and said he was ready to move on to the next exhibit. He held my hand and acted as if nothing had happened. He even listened to us much better continuing forward and later talked about how fun our zoo visit was.
We can choose to move on to the next opportunity with better knowledge and zeal and continue to enjoy life.
The message I hoped to send him was simple; but something even I, as an adult, often forget to employ in my own life. The message that we are incredibly resilient and when we make mistakes, because we will, we don’t have to be defined by those mistakes. We can choose to move on to the next opportunity with better knowledge and zeal and continue to enjoy life. Sometimes we want to sit and cry for a bit; however, in the next moment or few moments, we may experience a different feeling. Like my son, we may have to experience the feeling of sadness and then allow it to pass. If for a mere second we all stop to take the time to realize how resilient we are and to experience our potential, our lives could change dramatically and toward a greater good.