A Note on Bravery

It’s half-term right now, which is a bit of a surprise, as I remember vividly the angst and stress we went through when our daughter started school. All in all she has settled in remarkably well. To begin with she had attachment issues being left there. I had to be a bit cold and leave her in tears a few times, it’s not nice. I’ve been trying to pare down the whole ‘goodbye’ routine by moving closer to the door, eventually only going as far as the hallway outside her classroom. I see plenty of kids abandon their parents in the playground and run into the school. I couldn’t help wondering if we might ever get to that point.

Sidenote:
The school run is a strangely comforting routine and the one-on-one time I get with my daughter is precious… Especially this week. After reading a book to her that tried to use a joke around ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, I introduced the Guns ’n’ Roses song. It went over rather well, but turns out that song doesn’t stand up to repeated listening. We have now segued into AC/DC. There is nothing cuter than watching your young offspring nod along enthusiastically to Back in Black.

Last week upon waking up on Monday my daughter fixed me with a very serious look (for a 4 year old) and informed me that I would be staying in the playground today when I dropped her off at school. I gave a bit of side-eye, smiled and said ‘OK’.
To my absolute surprise, once in the playground I was told firmly to stay, got a hug, a kiss and watched my little girl trot into school, turning numerous times to shout ‘BYE’ until the crowd of people swallowed her and she was out of sight.

It was quite a big moment for me and I got rather emotional about it. I called my wife immediately to tell her of this momentous event. After 4 weeks of nervousness, tears and insecurity (on both sides), this action was such a huge leap forward.

I picked her up at the end of the day and it transpired that once inside the classroom, my daughter then got a bit upset. For the rest of the week we returned to saying goodbye in the hallway outside the classroom. But I don’t tell you that to diminish the initial act. I think it enhances it.

Finally, the point…

This percolated through my mind all week, and by Friday I had become immensely impressed with my daughter. In her world I can barely conceive of the courage it must have taken for her to change the way she did things and take that leap in an attempt of greater independence. She had fixed her mind on doing something and she went ahead and did it. Turned out it didn’t work for her and she decided to scale it back again.

Apply that process to your own work (writing, art, business… anything). Screwing up the courage and being brave enough to make a leap no matter how it pans out is admirable. But to then accept that things didn’t work and make changes.? I don’t know, it feels like my daughter is more mature and fearless than me.

I might be putting a bit more into it all as I interpret things from my viewpoint. Maybe she put very little thought into it or this sort of striving for independence is a usual developmental stage. Nevertheless, that old adage of ‘your kids teaching you more than you teach them’ rang quite true to me. And I think there is a good lesson in it for everyone.

Being brave enough to try is the victory, no matter how it all works out.

I have no doubts that in a few more weeks she’ll make another attempt, out of the blue, and maybe she’ll find it’s the right time for the leap to land.