My role today was that of cake decorating supply coordinator. I had to keep playing this over in my head to keep me out of the hair of the two lovely ten-year-old girls who were filling the roles of cake decorators...extraordinaire! The cakes were baked and the cooled cupcakes sat waiting as I colored the frosting and filled the bags. I was instructed which tips to fit each of the bags with. (Note to self: if you get 13 tips dirty--there will be 13 tips to be cleaned). I did a quick demo of what each tip could achieve, and stopped quickly, realizing this was not the time or place to display my cake decorating prowess (or lack thereof). They quickly got started, and as part of me cringed noticing that their base coats were a little uneven, the more sane part of my brain took over to say "THEY are perfectly pleased with what they have going on! Walk away!"
When adults refer to someone as lacking good judgment, it carries a negative vibe. I will dare to say that these two girls were using no judgment, and it was absolutely beautiful! They didn't have the vision of Martha Stewart's scowling face hanging over their heads. I did not hear "I can't do it" uttered one single time. They set out to decorate baked yum-yums, and they succeeded...end of story!
After cleaning up the kitchen, I was summoned outside to take my rope twirling post for what would be SEVERAL attempts at double-dutch jump-roping. For those of you who have not tried, let me just say that the twirling portion of the program is no easy feat (and I do not just say that because I must've looked like my arms were being manned by two separate and uncooperative brains). There were many attempts that yielded no success in jumping over either rope. When one rope was eventually cleared, I was ready to give congratulations and be done...not these girls. Once again "I can't do it" was not proclaimed. We studied the ropes as they turned with no "jumper", we analyzed where attempts went wrong, we strategized...and then, they each lasted over a solid 5-count! I was so excited that I started to get distracted from my twirling! I admit that I was also surprised, but I don't think either of them were. Once again--success...end of story!
I remember when I was finishing up sixth grade, and my violin teacher asked me if I'd be playing the following year. I told her "Probably not". Her response was "Yeah, well you're not very good". Suffice to say, that instrument was returned that June, after four years of playing. Part of me harbors ill wishes for what became of her--wishes involving years of hearing screeching, out of tune strings at night. Part of me is relieved that, as a parent, I know that some flip comment made to an eleven year old, can stick in their mind until they are forty.
I also remember not making the cut for fourth grade chorus, but thought the music teacher just hadn't heard me correctly. I carried that belief into college, until a friend interrupted my belting out some Indigo Girls song to ask me if I was tone deaf. I was shocked...and he wasn't kidding! (I was in chorus in later, but now my lack of being offered solo performances makes more sense.) Since he was in a band, I deferred to his judgment (as poor as I thought it was), and just didn't sing...around him...quite as loudly anymore. Perhaps there is something also to be said for why my children played Rock Band several evenings with no singer...claiming they thought I was busy.
I realized just how much I stood to learn from being on the outskirts of the play of growing children. Sure, my kids probably thought they could do anything when they were five, but really, how credible was I going to believe a five-year-old and a two-year-old to be...especially with the lunacy the two of them created when they combined forces?! Unfortunately, some of my skepticism probably filtered down to them, as I was still a force to be considered in most of their decisions back then. Fortunately, we've all done some growing. I was probably the last to realize that you can DO something, enjoy it, but not necessarily be good at it...and that's just fine! It has also been drawn to my attention that, just because I may not be impressed by whatever I've done, somebody else might be...MIGHT!