Re-Learning the Lessons of Life

This morning my one year old taught me a valuable lesson of life. I lay in my lazy Sunday bed reading my book while Daisy and Poppy played in the curtains. Their combined giggles and glees were like an ice-cream on hot day… all you need.

Then they made their way over to my wardrobe to pull out my shoes. One by one they were inspected and thrown to the side while the next discovery was made. Then Daisy asked me to pull out the mini step-ladder from under my bed so she could reach the other shoes. The ones I deliberately keep up high away from grubby hands. But it’s Sunday, and she said please without prompting, so I pull it out and set it up, and grubby hands paw my red suede heels. Lesson 1: it’s always worth an ask. The answer might just be yes.

Once Daisy lost interest, Poppy then assesses the step-ladder. It only has two steps but she’s never climbed one before. Climbing is a very new skill, and I could see the step-ladder was going to be a practise ground. And so I watch from the cover of my duvet. She tries to climb them like stairs but they’re too narrow. Eventually she realises she can do it if she holds onto the sides to pull her up. After several attempts she ascends the first step, and contemplates the second. She climbs down. This takes a degree of tricky footwork but she gets there. She then practises the first step over and over again. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Coos of self-appreciation accompany her efforts. She then tries the second step. Unsure. Unsteady. She wobbles. I clench my hands in restraint and stay behind the confines of my bed. This is her lesson to herself. She makes it. Squeals in delight to herself. She looks down at the floor anxiously and begins her descent. She gets it wrong, has to climb back up. Tries again. Four attempts later she gets it. For the next 15 minutes she climbs up two steps, and climbs down two steps, practising her new skill over and over again. She doesn’t give up and she doesn’t give in. Each time she assesses the space between the steps and the step and floor. Her feet just touch. It’s a tough climb but she does it over and over again. As my pride swamps me I realise she’s given me Lesson 2: try, try and try again. At last you will succeed. Practise, practise, practise, at last you will perfect.

She’s one and she knows that instinctively. I’m 38 and I’ve long forgotten it. There are things I want to achieve but I keep giving up at the first wobble. I look at her and I see that I must try and try and try. I must keep trying until I succeed.

I thought I would be the teacher, but this is a relationship. We both give and we both take. She will keep teaching me and I will keep trying. One step at a time.

(c) AKG 2008

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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