Try Again

I keep wanting to write about fixing our drain #PoorMomProblems. But that post keeps getting eaten by wordpress and the draft of this post keeps staring at me.

So maybe my blog thinks this is what I need to talk about.

Otis gets frustrated quickly. If something doesn’t go the way he wants it to, or he can’t do something well the first go around he kind of starts to lose it. Which I completely understand because THAT IS ME. He gets this lovely little quirk from me. We are each other’s people.

I first noticed his tendency to quit when he would try to put together difficult puzzles on his Kindle. He loves puzzles, but the first time a piece wouldn’t go in the right way he would throw the Kindle and stay mad for a minute or 15.

I knew where this behavior was headed. He was about to learn that hard things suck and don’t make him feel good. He was about to learn that avoiding this feeling of frustration and failure is easy. He was about to learn to avoid challenges and stay in his prison safe bubble.

I know because that’s how I live my life, and it’s what I learned. Frustration sucks so don’t do hard things. Failure is devastating so don’t try unless you are absolutely positive you’re going to do well.

I didn’t want that for him. So I started laughing while singing “Try again!” as I handed him back his Kindle.

I know he is scared of that feeling that comes with failure. I know because I am too. But I want him to know it’s just a feeling. That the power it feels like it has isn’t real. That he’s bigger than the feeling and that he gets to choose what to do with it. That he gets to decide if he defines failure as bad & scary or as neutral. I hope he decides that failure and frustration are neutral feelings that comes with learning. That it isn’t something to avoid, but a tool to help you find your way or push forward.

So I’m laughing and singing. “Try again!”

And he starts laughing, too, because he’s learning about his big emotions from us. If mom is laughing and isn’t scared maybe I can laugh, too. Also, getting Otis to laugh is like his restart button. It clears away all of the bad and you have a fresh toddler brain again.

He tries the puzzle again. Still no dice. He starts to get frustrated.

“Try again!” I giggle because this feeling is not scary. I’m not going to teach him it’s scary or powerful.

He giggles back and gives it another go, and a couple of minutes later he finishes the puzzle he wanted to throw at my head only an hour before.

We go through this a lot. He gets frustrated, I giggle, he says “Try again!”, and he (usually) figures it out. And lately I’ve noticed that he’s whispering it to himself while he’s learning other things like how to ride a scooter or kick a ball to his Pa. “Try again,” he whispers carefully to himself*.

Which of course has me all:

It really is beautiful to watch him begin to take control of emotions that I’m not the best at keeping in check. And it’s kind of awe inspiring to trade roles and have him become my coach in a way. Because lately I’ve been feeling frustrated and like a failure, and in my head I hear my little boy’s voice giggle and whisper, “Try again!” and I remember that I’m bigger than the fear, too.

*I would show you a video, but he basically lives without pants on so that would get me in trouble with the Feds or something.

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