They Had Done It. Themselves.
Dear Friends -
Otis could barely carry his bag a step further. It was loaded with the seven apples he had just picked from the orchard at Meadowbrook Farm, and we were starting up the small hill that led to the picnic area. “Dad,” he said, “I need you to carry the bag.” I nearly reached to grab it from him when I remembered the rule that I myself had explained earlier to the other Randolph parents who had accompanied the children on our trip. The rule was this: Please do not help your children with their bags, and ask them to only pick as many apples as they can carry themselves. Even at our first big family event, we are trying to help our kids develop their sense of independence, autonomy, and their ability to judge their own capacities. I bent down to talk to Otis. “Buddy, we are so close. Do you want to put the bag down to rest? Switch hands?” He looked at me for a second and then shifted the bag up into his arms like a baby and continued on.
At the top of the hill, as we waited for doughnuts and apple cider, I said “Otis, I noticed you figured out a way to carry that heavy bag all the way from the orchard.” He looked up at me, smiled, and ran off to sit with his friends while I watched a series of our young Downstairs children come around the corner, each of them figuring out a different strategy for carrying their load of apples. I saw apple bags dragged (adorably) like a sled, flung over shoulders, repeatedly set down and picked up, and switched from hand to hand. They all made it to the top of the hill, without much fanfare, and settled into the delicious snack that awaited them. They had done it. Themselves.