A child zooms around the house, arms outstretched and head held high. “Mama, I can fly!” he yells with glee. “Be careful, you can’t really fly and I’m worried you will get hurt.” His smile fades. It’s true. He can’t fly.
A child zooms around the playground, arms outstretched and head held high. “Mama, I can fly!” he yells with glee. “I believe you can fly! You’re having so much fun!” He laughs and zooms a little louder, a little prouder, a little higher. He finds glory in his imagination, feels the surge of joy in his heart and the wind rushing though his hair. “Tell me more about it!” the mother asks and the boy has the opportunity to weave a story and share a moment with his mother. He takes it further, turns into a bird that flies higher than a mountain top.
I believe you can fly.
Be careful. Don’t climb too high. Don’t jump off of that. Don’t get to close. Don’t move too fast. Don’t go so slow. Don’t put that in your mouth. Don’t pick that up. Don’t put that down. Don’t swing on that. Don’t go too deep. Don’t slide down that. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. Be Careful. You can’t really fly.
Yes, parents have a duty to provide a basic level of safety for our children. We keep them away from high ledges, broken glass and poisonous plants. We keep healthy food available and limit screen time and eliminate toxic substances from the air they breathe.
But parents also have a duty to believe our children can fly. It is our obligation to nurture not only their bodies, but their minds as well. To let their imaginations thrive, their dreams expand and their thoughts carry them to heights unseen. And to do that, we must sacrifice. We must hold back a little bit of anxiety as we let them climb a little higher. We must quiet our own issues and insecurities as we let them run a little faster, dig a little deeper and jump a little further than our comfort level allows.
I believe you can fly. It’s not only good parenting, it’s maybe the most valuable gift we can give our children. When we believe they can fly we are telling them that we love their adventure. That we enjoy their dream. That we want to relish in their joy. We are telling them that we trust their bodies and their courage and that we will be here to share it with them every step of the way. And we are telling them that we are willing to look past our own short sighted view of the world long enough to allow them to have their own experience of things.
A three-year-old pretending to read yells out, “Mama! I’m reading.” A fifth grader struggling with school declares they want to go to Harvard. A young girl professes she is going to play professional football. A four-year-old boy states he wants to be a princess when he grows up. A toddler tells her mom she wants to marry her.
It would be easy to dash their dreams, tell them the truth. You’re not really reading. Harvard is hard to get in to. The Dallas Cowboys don’t have girls on the team. Boys can’t be princesses. Moms can’t marry their daughter. It’s true. They can’t. But why? Instead, let their dreams soar, their imaginations flourish and their inner sense of self develop. Ask, “Really? Tell me more!”
Tell me more, a simple phrase that opens doors for kids to tell us what they are thinking. A story unfolds, a goal develops, and a connection flourishes. When we ask for more, we may get it. An understanding of where they are at. What they are thinking. The inner dialogue they are building becomes apparent as they voice their ideas and plans to us. A simple statement, a silly childish idea, when shared and supported becomes real, tangible, something to be relished and cherished and built upon. When their ideas and imagination are given space in the “real world,” they become more self-confident, more secure, more ready to take on the world.
Tell me more. You may be amazed at what is going on inside their minds and hearts. Something you may have never known if you just told them the truth.
Yes, I believe you can fly. Tell me more about it!