My daughter is four years old. She's learning to speak; she's learning to interact with the world. At times, she becomes frustrated with the way the real world conspires against her and will throw up her hands and declare, "I can't do it!" This is the usual exclamation when the belt she's toting around the house gets stuck under a chair, or a package of crackers is just too difficult to open. Her mother has instituted a program of positive thinking when ever adversity befalls our little girl. Like the little train that could, my wife coaches, "You can do it! Keep trying!" Our daughter has picked up this mantra and now repeates it when things don't go her way in the real world.
From time to time, we let her out of the house to run and play in the yard. The ever ominous warning to stay out of the road is quickly yelled when her trajectory and speed indicate that, indeed, the road is her destination. Lately, she has taken to crawling in our mini-van and playing hide and seek when we come tell her it's time to go inside. She'll duck down behind the third row seats and call out for us to find her. Once found, she'll find some other excuse to remain outside. This is usually accompanied by a pleading, "Just a minute!"
Yesterday, fed up with the constant struggle to get her to come inside, I decided to lock the van and take the keys inside. Soon, she was again let outside and proceeded as usual toward the van. She tried the driver's door and found it locked. After trying the door handle several times, she moved to the driver side sliding door calling out to herself, "keep trying!" That door didn't open either, so she moved around to the passenger side calling out to herself, "keep trying! You can do it!" After trying all four doors, she called out to her mother and I with as much exasperation as ever, "I can't do it! I can't do ANYTHING!"
Sure, life will have many bleak moments. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can't do it. This time, it was I that destroyed that positive attitude. It was I that caused all the work her mother had done to build self esteem in our child to fade. Up until this point, whatever it was that we said she could do, she really could do. Yesterday, she attempted to use that attitude to solve a problem. Yesterday, she discovered that even her parent's advice can be a lie.
Broke my heart.