One day last week, I was walking to the bus stop with the two little boys I’ve been watching. That particular day, parts of the sidewalk were incredibly icy. The smaller child had fallen on the ice the day before, and he wasn’t eager to repeat the performance, so I offered to let him hold my hand even though, to be honest, I wasn’t too sure of my footing, either.
As we inched our way along, gloved hands clasped, my sneakers slid on the icy pavement. I recovered quickly, no harm done, and Smaller Child said confidingly, “Sometimes grownups slip, too.”
It struck me as a much more profound statement than Smaller Child probably realized. He was talking about walking on ice, but it’s true in other aspects of life, too. Growing up doesn’t mean you stop making mistakes. In fact, sometimes it means that the mistakes you make have bigger consequences. But hopefully it means that your ability to learn from your mistakes and not make them again improves.
Other observations occurred to me as I thought about the statement. For one, the weird realization that this kid thinks of me as a grown up. I don’t particularly think of myself as a grownup. But… I kind of am.
Another thought is that it’s interesting to see from the other side a child’s trust that grownups are generally completely capable. Sure, Smaller Child acknowledged that I might slip, too, but he still felt safer holding my hand, even though I wasn’t always sure I could stay on my feet.
I remember believing that my mom could spell anything. As I was getting a little older and realizing that spelling was not my biggest strength, I wondered what my future kids would do without a mom who could spell anything. I’ve since realized that even my mom has to sometimes look up words, and that my future children will be just fine if I can’t spell every word they ask about. But this was the first time I’d really experienced a bit of the other side of the coin.
It’s interesting the things children say that stick with you that they might not even remember saying.