Yesterday I was watching my 5-month old as he struggled and struggled and struggled to reach out and grasp his favorite chewable book. He was on his stomach and the book was just barely within his reach. Except, every time he reached for it, his fingers would brush it and push it further away from him.
Oh, the resulting frustration! He howled and howled.
And then, he would try again.
Again, he would just touch it, only to push it further away.
As his mother, watching him, it was excruciating. I SO wanted to reach out and give him the book. And, I did a couple of times but within a matter of moments it would once again be out of reach and the entire process would begin again.
Watching him, I found myself wondering…
- What if all of those times when I struggle and struggle and struggle and it seems as if the thing I so want (to learn, to become, to have) is always just out of my reach… I’m actually on the verge of learning some new skill?
- What if the struggle in and of itself is a gift? A gift because without the struggle I wouldn’t be able to learn something new that will lead to a huge growth spurt in my life.
- What if being rescued from my struggling means that I never master the new skill or receive the gift inherent?
- What if feeling frustrated is a healthy part of the struggle and in no way indicates the thing I’m attempting is impossible (or that I’m a failure)?
- What if it is ok to fully express frustration and then try again?
The skills we don’t yet know we need.
For Little D, two of the skills he is on the verge of mastering include:
- an increase in fine-motors skills as evidenced by a better ability to grasp; and
If I continue to give him everything he wants the moment he wants it, he will not be able to struggle and struggle to reach it himself. Ultimately, me ‘rescuing’ him from his frustration will delay him learning to crawl.
If I give him the space to struggle and to figure things out on his own he will learn to crawl which will, ultimately, open up his little world in an entirely new way. In fact, it will open his world in ways that he can’t even imagine in his current state of frustration and struggle.
What if the same is true for me? What if the same is true for you?