I have 3-year-old twins.
So, yeah, I hear “I do it!” dozens of times a day.
While my gut reaction, at 6:45AM when I’m just really, really wishing I could sit down with a glass of iced tea (no one wants to see me on coffee-strength caffeine!) and scan the headlines, is often, “Seriously, let me spread the butter on your pancake, sweetheart,” this year I’m vowing to think differently about this.
Because, really, if I’m going to live empowerment, it needs to even start first thing in the morning.
What is “I do it myself!” anyway, if not an expression of our universal need to demonstrate our abilities, and to control our own worlds, and to define our own interactions? What else explains the look of utter triumph on my daughter’s face when she gets her own shoes on, or my son’s glee when he tells his father that he put his own underwear on?
Small victories become not so small when we’re conquering helplessness and overcoming others’ limited expectations of us.
In 2012, I promise to offer my kids more chances to do for themselves, and more understanding of why that matters so much. The same way that, as an organizer, I try to default to others’ own efforts on their own behalf, to accept and celebrate their attempts to do for themselves, rather than taking the easy way out–making breakfast before the kids get up, or just getting the agenda done on my own, or striking a deal with the city councilmember when we see each other at a committee meeting.
When we’re building capacity and helping people to claim their own power, “easy” isn’t what matters. There’s no extra credit for shortcuts. Instead, people should authentically own their own experiences and have room to try on their own.
Whether they’re 3 or 43.