A lesson from a 7-year old
For the last several summers, I’ve spent a lot of time with kids. Whether I was babysitting, teaching fitness classes, or packing candy bags at the General Store, I was interacting with and learning from so many different kids.
This summer, I've been interning from home and spending a lot of time with my dog instead.
And it is a bit ironic, I’m just now realizing, how badly I find myself wanting to grow up and start whatever “real life” is, yet how much I miss being around kids and their energy, funny expressions, and lack of care for what anybody else thinks. I want to be a grown up, I want to be a child. I guess I don’t know what I want.
There’s a sweet 7-year old I talked with the other day who I think understands my frustration. She explained to my mom and me her dilemma:
I want to be a grown up, she said, so that I can eat however many treats I want.
She then proceeded then to eat cookies and hamburger buns for dinner. What she has yet to realize is that in reality, the older you get, the harder it is to eat treats and cookies and hamburger buns without watching the numbers on the scale—and around your waist—grow larger.
There’s a naivety in kids that is hilarious and beautiful at the same time. They have this wonderful ability to assume anything is possible and that they can be the ones to do it.
They want to do things like host an art show on the front porch so that strangers can admire their coloring book masterpieces or create the latest trick shot video in an effort to become the next Dude Perfect.
It’s funny because we see the improbability of the feasibility of these ideas, but it’s also awesome because we get to witness their confidence and creativity.
A few days after our conversation over cookies and buns, she came to our house. She wanted to run on the treadmill (in her socks, might I add) and so she plopped on and started stepping. Then bouncing. Then jogging.
Pretty soon four miles per hour was much too slow for her and she asked if she could try eight.
I don’t know, I said. That’s like as fast as I sprint, hoping to deter her.
Well what about seven then? she insisted.
How about six? I compromised.
Long story short six soon became seven which became eight. She ran at eight miles an hour for about 20 seconds, smiling the whole time, her white socks becoming grayer and breathing becoming heavier with each step.
I hovered my finger over the three mile per hour button. She moved her eyes til they met mine and shook her head “yes.”
As the belt slowed, she hopped off the treadmill and beamed. Her brothers came over to see what she was breathing so heavy for.
I just ran eight! That’s as fast as she runs, she said nodding toward me.
She was so proud, as she should be.
But the thing is, I doubted her. I didn’t want her to get hurt. I didn’t want to be liable for any pain or failure she faced, so I wanted her to stick to slower speeds.
She, however, had no doubt in her mind that she could do it and I had no backbone to tell her otherwise. I gave in to a 7-year old and I learned a great lesson in return.
I want to live my life more like her. Fully confident and eager for faster speeds. And more than that, I don’t want to ever be the person to hold someone else back. If you think you can go eight miles per hour, go for it. I’m not going to tell you otherwise.
I don’t want to be the reason someone misses the opportunity to smile at her brothers and proudly tell them of what she just accomplished.
Go run as fast as you want. I'll cheer you on while you do.