We try to read with our children at night. Each kid chooses a book and as part of the bedtime ritual, we wind down with stories about dinosaurs or Lego characters. For the very first time, our kindergartner said, “Let me read the book to you.” Did he get every word? No. Did he understand the entirety of the story? Not even close. But our hearts soared because it was as if he took a key, unlocked a door, and started walking towards the edge of an entirely new world. A world of imagination, discovery, creativity, possibility and wonder.
When he insisted on sounding out the words, not caring about making mistakes, I felt a twinge of jealousy. He is clearly being raised in the most incredible classroom. An environment in which trying, falling, getting back up, searching and discovering are the best actions one can take. He is being taught that perfection is not the goal. A desire to explore and establish a sense of resiliency when one stumbles may be the most important life lessons…ones in which I wish grownups would remember to nurture and hold sacred.
As adults, we are often afraid to admit that which we do not know. And yet, when we hide our brokenness, conceal our imperfections, mask topics we just don’t understand, we teach our children that pretending is better than improving. That feigning reality is more important that admitting where we can be better. We deny our ability to make a mistake and grow through inevitable failures.
Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Ishbitz writes, “A person can only uphold the teachings of the Torah when he has stumbled in them.” Perhaps, this means that we discover who we are meant to become if we are willing to stumble through the unknown. Realizing that we might fall a few times and understanding that we can get back up.
In other words, live life as a kindergartner. Words may be hard to pronounce but don’t let that stop you from opening the book. Don’t let that stop you from discovering a brand new world…or discovering yourself.
May we stumble. May we grow. May we slip. May we thrive.