At five years old, she has a lifetime of firsts ahead of her (though this is the first significant “last”…a point I find intriguing). Some firsts are good: home runs and kisses, and some bad: broken bones and heart. It all leads to a rich life and I am so excited for her.
But today, I want time to stand still for her. Being in the school halls today, I felt the energetic buzz that I remember so very well from my own childhood. The anticipation of a long summer of swimming, lemonade stands, playing tennis, giggling with pals in the treehouse, eating watermelon and watching ants do their thing. The hard truth always became apparent around week three as boredom set in (though in my house, if we whined about being bored, we were met with our least favourite axiom: “only the boring are bored”). The anticipation always seemed more satisfying than the reality. Disappointment 101: things aren’t always as blissful as they “ought to be”.
I wonder about this phenomenon and how it has come to impact our adult existence. When I work with my coaching clients and they are close to attaining their stated goals or objectives, some opt to retreat by putting up barrier after barrier. Why would they stop themselves short? I wonder if it has something to do with the fear that when the brass ring is reached, that it will feel flimsy and disappointing. A hope dashed. So…we often “protect” ourselves from this by keeping our sights set low and not allowing ourselves to think big. Because the higher the mountain the longer the fall. Makes sense, right? Why climb higher when disappointment’s possible...or heck, in some people's minds...imminent?
So, further to this, I try to imagine my daughter this time next year, ambivalent about upcoming summer vacation…because she’s “wiser” now and knows that after three weeks, the idea of a popsicle at 9 AM will have lost its appeal. But try as I might, it’s blissfully impossible to envision. Kids are smarter than that. Fun can always be had. Annoying as it was, being challenged with not being “boring” made my sister, friends and I dig a little deeper into the recesses of our creativity and we always got a little more lost in a new world of fun and creativity.
Do you want to go through life ambivalent about things and spend your time counting down days on vacation until school starts again, or do you want how to make getting to the brass ring more exciting…and have a popsicle while you’re at it?
And while I hope my daughter lives a life of asking herself those probing questions, I do so wish she could hang on to today…