When I sat down to start this piece my daughter, Miss 6, came and sat on my lap “to help.” I explained I was writing about an excellent adventure and looking for inspiration and asked about her own best adventure?
This is the conversation that followed.
Miss 6: My best achievement is my best adventure. My best achievement was my topic Castles. It was an excellent adventure and it was like a real adventure to go around the castle.
Me: Why is your best achievement your best adventure?
Miss 6: Because you never know what happens after your achievement. You might see something you’ve never seen before; you might do something you’ve never done before.
Me: What does achievement mean?
Miss 6: I don’t know. Does it mean doing something new, learning something hard?
From the Oxford Dictionary:
achievement: something done with effort, skill or courage.
How often can you say you’ve looked at something you’ve achieved as an opportunity for adventure; that something is offered beyond the achievement? It is not just the striving for and receiving that is the prize at the end, there is more, so much more, to be had from your effort, skill, or courage. The doors those things open, if we let them, can lead to many excellent adventures. You never know what happens after your achievement.
I love this attitude of expansion, of learning, that there is always more around the corner. The thought that effort, skill, and courage does not just end with a gold star or a certificate, but that achievement is just the beginning of all you can experience, not the end.
So many of my parenting achievements are based around effort and courage (with a bit of skill thrown in on a good day!) and this is my excellent adventure because I never know what will happen after each achievement, small and large. Some days I feel like this parenting thing is sorted, other days I wonder if I have learned anything, achieved anything at all.
And then I remember: she is a most excellent adventure. My child is my teacher, guide, and mirror. An intuit, who I believe has been here before, perhaps many times. She gently teaches with her insightful comments and reflections. It may be any child’s perceptions, uncluttered as they are by criticism, judgment, guilt, comparison. She speaks it as it is.
One day as we were painting and creating together, I asked her what she was painting. “Perhaps I’ll know what it is when I’m finished.” This comment left my mouth agape. Of course! The joy, the release, the relief of having no expectations or goals while creating, is incredibly liberating and was a turning point for me (a recovering perfectionist). I often refer to that comment if I am struggling with my writing, my creativity, and sometimes even my life decision-making: Do I need to know now what is going to happen later? Do I need to have that endpoint insight to even be able to start something? Does there need to be a clear goal for everything? Or can I just go with it; be in the moment; experience the situation for what it is?
It is an honor to witness my daughter’s own excellent adventures and as her end-of-year report has shown, her achievements will lead her to many more adventures. While she is a part of my own parenting journey, I understand it is a gift to be there to hold her, rather than mold her, as she travels this life, her life, embarking on excellent adventures from each new achievement.
Photo credit: Patricia Prudente