A stick figure drawing of a girl riding non-descript kid’s play-thing hangs proudly on my fridge with these wobbly-written words, “I want a schuder for Christmas.” I investigate the image with my 6-year-old daughter to discover she’s prompting Santa to remember her scooter request. Side note: since she was 3-years-old, I’ve been trying to convince her Santa is pretend and I actually buy the gifts.
Our disagreement about the jolly old man aside, I like her gift idea and bypass Santa to buy the most awesome scooter Amazon could offer. Skip ahead and we’re walking out the door, scooter assembled, in a post-gift-unwrapping euphoria. “Let me see that thing,” I say, before stepping on to double the poor little scooter’s weight limit. I proceed to show my sweet daughter the right way to ride. “Put your back foot here, do this with your front foot, hold these like this,” I go on and on explaining the intricacies of proper scooter movement.
Then, she steps on and does it all wrong. Kindly, I remind her how to do it right. This goes on, and on, and on. I find myself stopping her before she even starts and saying things like, “you’ve got to learn to do it right now or you’ll never have fun on this scooter.” “But I’m having fun now,” she says through her big brown Santa-believing eyes.
Side note: puppy eyes are not fair, but God probably made them for a reason. I was afraid if I didn’t help her perfect every single stride, she would end up a scooter-hating-human cursed to only walk the sidewalk and never glide like the X-games winning rider I imagined. I nearly kept her from getting started, doing what she could, where she was at, with what she had. Sound familiar? You might have heard Sam Roberts’ message, Get Started? If you haven’t catch it here.
Back to little miss puppy eyes. After I loosened my vice-grip on perfection, she started to get the hang of the scooter. “Dad, can I tell you something?” she said later that day, “thank you for buying me this scooter.” Before I could throw a “Take that, Santa!” party in my mind, she stopped me again, “Dad, can I tell you something else? Thank you for teaching me how to ride my scooter. I’m having so much more fun now.”
This year let’s give up perfection and start with the end in mind. In the case of my daughter and I, I was acting like the goal was to avoid failure. When I realized the goal was to enjoy time together, I realized I needed to start somewhere different. Where do you want to end up? How will you start?