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Why trying, failing, and trying again will always lead to success

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Ever since my daughter Kinley was born, my wife Natalie and I have been hammering the idea of “try again” in to her.  We’d let her know what she could try doing differently to make it work next time.

Of course, when you’re at the age where you’re trying to learn how to use a spoon to feed yourself baby mush, it’s hard concept to grasp.  But she was hearing us, and over the last six months, once she hit a whopping two and half years old, it finally manifested.

Now, everything she tries to do but doesn’t succeed, whether it’s climbing a rock or trying to do some trick on her trampoline, she immediately says to me “we can try again dada”. She gets up or starts over and tries again.  I still provide constructive feedback, and most of the time she listens and does things a little differently the next time.  Sometimes not, but most of the time.

This repeats until she succeeds.  It can go on for an annoyingly long time, but it makes me happy – really happy.

The same concept we’ve been embedding in her little head for the last three years she’s now taken to the next level.  Now when we tell her we can’t do something, like drive one of our cars when she asks to, she responds with “well, we can try.”

Last week, we were on one of our “daddy daughter dates” which consistently happen after I pick her up from school on Fridays. Around 4 pm.

I bought her a new scooter, so we took it to a local park to learn how to ride. She had been riding it around our house and was pretty damn good at balancing, but she didn’t understand how to slow down, stop or turn.

We unpacked the car, strapped on her helmet and headed to a sidewalk that runs through the middle of the park.  It’s about a ¼ mile long and the direction we were going, it was a slight downhill.  Very slight, but still. 

She gets on the scooter and I’m thinking I’ll run along side her in case she gets in a jam and start teaching her how to slow down and stop.  It didn’t happen that way, at all.

She immediately starts whipping her right leg as fast as she can, with her left leg on the scooter.  She gains so much speed I’m in an all out sprint.  Now I’m worried.  Instead of getting scared like I expected, she just keeps going faster and all I hear ahead of me is this little 3-year-old shouting “faster! faster!”.

Since she doesn’t know how to steer yet, she veers off into the grass and it slows her down to a stop.  Thank god.

So we do it again, and I explain to her how to slow down this time. I give her two options.  The first, stop swiping your leg when you want to slow down and the second bring your right foot back up on the scooter and put it on top of the back wheel (there’s a little mechanism that you push down on with your foot that slows the back wheel down).

So we’re off again, and it’s a repeat of the first time.  Me sprinting in terror, her shouting to go faster.  But this time her stop isn’t so elegant. She hits a rock or something and she’s leaning too far forward and she goes ass over tea kettle – doing a faceplant into the sidewalk. I catch up to her and she’s screaming. Thankfully no blood but I pick her up to comfort her.

I grab the scooter in one hand with her in my other arm.  She starts to stop crying.  She tells me her head hurts.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re done for the day.  The last thing I want to do is bring her home to mama all bloodied and scraped up.

We’re walking back up, and I look at her and she says to me ”dada, put my scooter down”.  I said to her “you sure baby?” She says “yeah, I want to try again”.

I put the scooter down, she hops back on with a big smile, and starts up again.  This time, she uses her right foot not only to go faster, but realizes that she can use the same foot to plant it in the sidewalk repeatedly to slow herself down.  Not what I taught her, but it works.  She slows herself down.

I drove off with her about an hour later headed towards the pier to go grab some ice cream because well “we can try”.

All I kept thinking about was what just went down.  My little girl getting back up after a really bad fall and trying again.  The resilience.

Best daddy daughter date ever.  And a reminder to myself that no matter what, no matter how bad I fall, I have to get back up and try again.

Chris PuglisiComment