October 26, 2011

Testing the Boundaries

My aunt asked all the women in our family to write a little something for her daughter as she embarks on the path to adulthood.  So here is what I wrote to my tween cousin:

My favorite story to tell people about the beauty of childhood stars you as the main character. You were maybe 3 or 4 years old and we were all gathered at the grandparent’s house is West Seattle. Dinner was taking a little longer than expected so you wandered over to the pool’s steps, innocently sitting on the ground with your feet dangling in the pool water. As dinner was called, Jann asked you to please not get in the pool now and to come to the table. You declared that you were simply sitting with your feet in the water; you were not getting in. A few minutes later and again Jann is asking you to come over for dinner and to not get in to the pool. By now, you were sitting in the pool, on the first step, so just your legs submerged in the water. You repeated your declaration that you were in fact not in the pool, just your legs. Another few minutes and you eased yourself one step down so that you were now up to your waist. We were all busy serving out dinner so didn’t think to ask you again to come to the table but Jann was watching you and I could see the wheels in your head spinning. A few moments later, we all heard a gentle splash and a soft giggle. You had indeed hopped into the pool and you immediately looked up at your mom, knowing that you had now clearly acted against her wishes. Instantly, you protested, “I didn’t get in, I fell in!”

This is my favorite story because it so plainly illustrates a child’s constant testing of the rules, the pushing of the envelope so to speak. It is a marvelous time when a child discovers their ability to push, push, push and by doing so, learn, explore and conclude. I urge you to not lose this ability as you transition to young adulthood and beyond. It is unfortunately a very easy skill to lose and you will have to work at holding on to it. So go forth – test, test, test and push, push, push the boundaries. It will inevitably lead to spectacular adventures and some sad or unpleasant ones as well. But in the end, all of our experiences make us who we are – they are the building blocks of our Self.
So, Please. Fall into life. Ask questions. Have fun. Laugh. 

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