I helped my 5-year-old daughter make lemonade once. We loaded it up with lots of ice, added enough sugar (but not too much) and squeezed a cutting board full of fresh juicy lemons. It was the best homemade lemonade I’d ever tasted. I watched from the front window on one of the hottest days of the year as she poured her juice at the end of our driveway in her sundress and baseball cap. She insisted on doing this herself. “I got this, Mom” she said. She believed in herself. She had no reason not to. At 5 years old she had nothing to lose. Her sign attracted our neighbours and a bunch of construction workers that just so happened to be working on our street.
As I stood and watched her confidence build with every customer she served, I thought to myself, why do we stop believing in ourselves and when do we let our own fear get in the way of letting our kids fail and fall? There was a time when we didn’t know the things that we now know because we tried something and gained experience. Although the stakes are often higher than a bee sting and some leftover lemonade, we must grab fear by the arm and say, “come on, we’re doing this.”
Sara Blakely, the billionaire entrepreneur who founded Spanx said her Dad would high five her every time she failed. All her ideas were encouraged, and she was applauded for making mistakes. As a result, she was never afraid to fail. Try again, fail again, fail better. What a wonderful way to parent our children. What a wonderful way to parent ourselves. Often, it’s the biggest mistakes that offer us our most valuable lessons. Courage is like a muscle that we strengthen with each use. There’s a quote by Mickey Hart, the drummer for the Grateful Dead, “Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. That first step is an act of Faith.”
As I lost sight of my daughter in the airport security line on her way to Barcelona, Spain for a year long Rotary youth exchange, I thought oh my, what am I doing? What if she gets robbed or lost or hates her host family or has a panic attack? Then I remembered that lemonade stand at the end of our driveway and the confidence she has built over the past 12 years trying new things failing and falling that have led her to this point. Then just as a mother bird pushes her baby bird out of the nest to teach them how to fly, I too felt like I had given my daughter some wings that day.