“It’s okay Dad, I’ll be okay. I’ve been landing for years.”
As soon as I heard the first grader at our school drop-off say this, I knew that 1) they didn’t know the depth of the thing they’d just uttered out loud and 2) I needed to remember it.
This kiddo was standing on a short brick wall that some of the first and second graders at our kids’ school jump off in the mornings as they run around. Parents look on, some of us with horror on our faces, some of us standing just close enough to catch someone if they fall, to run to them if they scrape those knees. But most of the time, the kids know exactly what they’re doing— they know how to land, and they know how to play and laugh and make the most of their lives.
I envy and celebrate them for that.
And, of course, I know this isn’t just a physical thing--we don’t all land, or have the ability to jump from the highest heights to those below. Metaphorically, though, we understand that taking a risk, doing something that seems impossible, creating space to say I will take this chance and trust that somehow I’ll land is what being human is about. This is the journey.
On a different weekend afternoon, we took our kids to play at the vacant school playground for a bit. While hanging around the jungle gym, I noticed some kids had written with chalk on the inside of the structure. I prepared myself for profanity and knock-knock jokes, but instead, saw these messages:
Someone knew that someone else might need these words. Some kid at a school in Philly gave us a gift, just like the kid who jumped the wall gave their dad a gift— the gift of believing, of embracing the journey, of not giving up.
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but it’s still true: we are living in an exhausting time, and maybe all we can say to ourselves is that we’ve been landing for years.
And most days, it’s hard to feel that. It’s hard to remember that we have been making small decisions every day to survive, to thrive, to do the best we can with what we’ve been given. Sometimes our friends and family remind us of that, sometimes complete strangers say kind things or post meaningful words on the internet, and sometimes— it’s just the kids.
The kids show up and remind us that we can do it, and that we aren’t doing it alone. So when you’re tired, or when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, may I recommend a few new mantras (from the kids) to get you through:
Do not give up!
You’ll be okay.
You’ve been landing for years.
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Onward, friends, together.