Last week a group of us were out at my favorite live music venue here in St. Pete…
It’s the Hideaway Cafe, where we held our first ever X-Factor Extravaganza music and comedy show during Copy Chief Live!
I love the Hideaway because it is specifically designed for listening to music (not talking over it). It’s also a small club and easy to feel a bit under the microscope because everyone inside is aware of everyone else.
Over at another table was this guy who looked like a touring rock musician. Tall and muscular with long dark hair. I kept expecting him to be invited on stage as a “special guest”, except he was there in full on “dad mode” with his two young daughters, who were maybe 4 and 6 in age.
What struck me was how graceful this guy was with his daughters. The two girls loved the music and their dad would casually stand up and dance with them playfully, seemingly unaware of anyone watching – just like you do when you’re in “at home dad” mode.
He was allowing them to walk a few steps closer to the stage to see the band better, and gave the older one a few bucks to put into the tip box at the front of the stage. The most insightful moment was when the girl couldn’t figure out how to get the money into the tip box. Despite her struggling in front of the entire club, Rocker Dad resisted the parental urge to run up and do it for her.
Instead, he gave her space to figure it out on her own. When she couldn’t and went back to him, he casually explained “there’s a slot in the top.” Then she went back and did it just fine. Dancing proudly all the way back to her seat.
This was one of those “tiny moments” that reveal so much about us humans and how we operate.
As parents we pass our anxieties onto our children in more ways than we realize. It’s often later in their lives when we figure out that it’s so much more powerful to show patience and confidence in their ability to do things for themselves, and allow their mistakes to serve as lasting lessons.
No judgement whatsoever on this.
As a parent of teens, I’ve been through all the frayed nerves and overcorrections of trying to guide small people through life without extra trips to the ER, or permanent psychological scars.
But something my friend Jesse said to me once has rung in my head every day since.
“There’s no greater freedom than allowing other people to have their own experience.”
When he said that, I thought for a few minutes, and asked: “Even with your kids?”
He shrugged knowingly and left me to ponder.
It took me a minute to get, and even longer to apply, but the simple lesson is that there is no possible way to “worry away danger.”
Sometimes, especially as parents, we can feel it’s part of our duty to foresee every perilous scenario that will confront the people we love, and then try to help them avoid suffering the consequences.
This is a seemingly new mindset as of American Generation X, by the way… because my parents wouldn’t have known until long after the street lights came on if I’d been kidnapped or maimed or decided to run away with the circus.
I routinely came home injured and wore perpetual knee scabs from kindergarten well into high school.
It was a blast.
You probably had a similar experience, and like me, credit all the lessons from all those bruises with preparing us for the “serious shit” that was waiting for us in adulthood.
So, it was refreshing to see cool-ass Rock Dad raising his babies in a way that gave them space, and fostered a trust in themselves, to safely have their own experiences.
If you didn’t have it quite so good, and your parents, or other people in your life have left your confidence a little frazzled, then I hope this little story helps you recognize it and give yourself some grace.
And most importantly, realize that when it comes to how you treat yourself, you get to choose patience and persistence over doubt and judgement.
So long as you’re trying, then you are growing.
Sure it’s important to push ourselves. It’s amazing to discover capabilities we never expected from ourselves. Or to confirm a hunch that we can do something for which we have passion
It’s also nice to let yourself off the hook when you feel disappointed.
Leap, fall, hurt, learn, grow, excel.
You got this.
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