From 2:00pm to 3:30pm I am in the car on the task of picking kids up from school. 5 kids in 3 locations with driving time makes for a lot of time in the car. We play the “One Good Thing” game which takes up some of the time (This is where each child is given the platform to talk about one good thing that happened during school and no other child is allowed to talk. I don’t ask about anything bad, because I refuse to allow them to dwell on it.) and we try to do a little of the homework that may be coming home that day.
Mostly they argue a lot to release the steam of learning and other pressures from being in school all day. They are tired and cranky from all the demands put on them. I get it, but sometimes I really want ear plugs or soundproof glass between the front seat and the back. It never fails that I hear the following at least 10 times per child.
I can’t read that.
I can’t understand.
Yesterday, their use of the word “can’t” had rubbed me for the last time. I gave an epic speech on the discontinuation of the word “can’t.” I spouted off encouragement of doing your best, always at least trying and for-goodness-sake don’t ever use the word “can’t” again! It was a lecture of beauty and empowerment.
The 7 year old boy looked at me in enlightenment and I thought “By George, I think I’ve broken through.”
“So, I’ll just say I ‘won’t’ read that.”
“NO! You CAN’T say that.”
A smug smile crossed his face and I wanted to grab the words from his ears and stuff them right back into my mouth.
Erase the epic speech, the point was now silent.
My reasons for not wanting the kids to constantly say “can’t” had merit. I want them to trust in themselves. I want them to at least try. I know they can do these things if they choose to. I believe in them and want them to start off in their lives early believing in themselves. They will taste failure; it’s inevitable. I just don’t want them to perpetuate that failure for lack of effort and insecurity.
I don’t want them to be like me.
Recently it was requested that I do something and because I tend to be spontaneous and jump, I quickly agreed before knowing the scope. As I started looking into it, I threw up my hands and thought “I CAN’T.” I think I presented some very valid reasons to support that. In fact, I threw a little of a tantrum.
Brian looked at me and although I won’t type out everything he said (he tends to be more long-winded than me. I know, right?!) but the principle of it was “They asked you so they must believe in you.”
Isn’t this exactly why I don’t want the kids to say “can’t?”
There will be times that I take on things that are beyond my capability of doing at the time I want to do them. Walk a tightrope and do a cartwheel? Can’t. Fly an airplane and do a loopty-loo. Can’t.
“Can’t” is the one word equivalent to “I haven’t done this before, I think I will fail, I accept my perceived limitations and I don’t want to hurt.”
Ok so I “can’t” walk a tightrope and do a cartwheel. Can I walk? Yes. Can I do a cartwheel? Well, I used to, so yes. I have never done it on a suspended rope though, but that doesn’t mean I can’t. I just means I don’t know how to do it right now, but I can learn. I only said I can’t, because I am afraid of messing up, falling and getting hurt. But if I continue to say I can’t, what is going to make me try?
Life. I was put here for a specific purpose and I have been trusted to fulfill that. It’s up to me whether or not I fail. No matter how many times I fail. No matter how many times it hurts. God put me here, so He must believe in me to do it. So rather than not walking out onto that rope because I can’t; I have to trust that I am believed in so it is safe to try.
…and frankly…if He believes in me, who am I to doubt?
Categories: January Diary Entry
I am the “Queen of Can’t”. I have always been “if I am not going to succeed, I won’t try”. Thank you for this post, because I always need a reminder that I CAN if I stop making excuses!!