One of Molly’s first full phrases was “Molly do it ha-SELF”, with the emphasis on “self”. How many times did she stand in her learning tower at the beige kitchen counter at our first house, twisting the cap of her SpongeBob sippy cup with two hands (because one was just not big enough), the milk sloshing over the side, saying that?
I let her do it every time even though I hated the mess.
She repeated this phrase over and over as she attempted everything from building with blocks, to feeding herself, to getting herself dressed.
I tried to give her a long leash because, although peeved by the messes, secretly, it delighted me that she was so independent. Even then I thought, one of the best gifts we could give her would be self-reliance. And to know that when she takes responsibility, she has great power.
We’re lucky. She has a pretty strong internal locus of control. So far, all three of my kids do. One of our educational goals is to encourage that. We are hopeful our kids won’t need much help. We want them to be rocks.
The reality is, though, that we all need help sometimes. Probably more often than not. And so another educational goal of ours is to teach our kids how to ask for help. Seems simple, right? When was the last time you genuinely and honestly sought help?
Asking for help requires humility, a recognition that you need it. It’s hard to admit “weakness”, even for that sippy-cup-wielding 2-year-old.
But with weakness comes power. For when you ask for help, most people gladly give it.
I am not talking about getting help with just a cap or a spill.
I am talking about seeking out help or information from people who are better at something than you and feeling comfortable asking questions.
We’ve learned about everything from how to clean a large fish tank without removing the fish to how to start a small business to why throwing a ball makes you a better tennis player to how to make a seven-layer rainbow cake — just by asking questions.
No books. No classes. Just questions and, of course, gratitude for the information. We try to always say “thank you”.
People love to share their passions, and it feels good to help. All you need to do is ask. It’s the secret weapon in getting a great education.
Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us SELF.