I was taking a fast-paced walk the other day, and came to an intersection manned by a crossing guard. The light was red and the crossing guard was across the street. No cars coming in either direction, and so I began to cross.
A sharp whistle came from you know who followed by, “You can’t cross now!”
I looked again. Still no cars. I could cross, of course, there was no danger here. I looked back up at the crossing guard, who shook his head no, as if reading my mind. I returned to the sidewalk and waited the 30 seconds until the light turned.
My not crossing was more important to him than crossing was to me.
Recently, I had my sons in the car with me on a return trip from the grocery store. It was snack time; one wanted pretzels, the other raspberries. I gave them each their snack.
I then asked pretzel boy for a snack, “Nope. You can’t have one.”
I explained why this was not nice. Raspberry boy offered me a snack, “I will give you two raspberries, but only two.”
Okay. I reached my arm back and he put the raspberries in my hand.
I asked his brother if I could have a pretzel. I was told, “No. You can’t have one now. You already ate two raspberries and that’s all you get.”
So I’m raising two dictators. Or, two three-year-olds, who like to play with boundaries.
Young children kids are always hearing boundaries. Not now. One TV show. That’s enough milk. Put on clothes. Don’t pee on your brother.
Their job is to find the boundary, and push until they hit one. That’s what they do. My job as a parent is to establish that boundary without losing my mind.
Contrastingly, my job as a coach is to help break people out of self imposed boundaries, and get rid of the can’ts and should’s they’ve been hearing all their life.
Like the crossing guard. I mean, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to cross the street at a red light, but let’s be real. I could see 4 blocks in every direction; ain’t nothin’ going on in this cross section besides me and your whistle.
There’s no real reason I couldn’t have crossed. But it was his job to tell me I couldn’t; I shouldn’t. And because I’ve developed a sense of maturity, I didn’t question him on this.
And thank god, my job is to help people realize they can. And will. (And they do.)