The other day I was helping a five-year-old boy learn to tie his shoes. He kept telling me how hard it was so I encouraged him to keep practicing. “Don’t give up,” I told him. “You can do it if you don’t quit,” I said over and over. Every time I followed one of his mistakes with one of my encouraging comments, he looked at me like I was forcing him up Mt. Everest with a whip.
Fortunately, I’d been through the torture of learning how to tie shoes before, both as the learner and the teacher. I remembered learning to tie my own shoes, despite the criticism of peers who had already mastered the skill. It was hard, but I learned. And it wasn’t too many years ago that my own children clawed their way up that mountain. We had a few squabbles and ended up putting the shoes in the closet for a while. At times, I was tempted to give up and buy the children slip-ons, but we got through it.
As I watched this kid fumbling with his shoe laces, I felt guilty. Maybe I’d pushed him too hard. Expected too much. He’d only been in kindergarten a few weeks. Most kids his age would be in tears by now. Should I tell him to take a break? Go play? He had plenty of time to– He tapped me on the arm and pointed at his feet. His smile told me the news before I saw the bows on his laces.
“I did it!” he yelled. We exchanged high-fives.
I think this boy will go far. Already, at the tender age of five, he’s learned a deeper lesson than how to tie his shoes. He learned that the view from the top of the mountain is worth every inch of the climb.
What mountain are you climbing at the moment?