On a recent homeschooling field trip, we visited the Big Whale Museum, also known as the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.
This isn’t about the museum, but if you’d like to know more, read my post about our family field trip here.
Outside the museum there is a life-size grey whale model that kids can climb. It’s slippery, rather challenging and to a three-year-old must look like a mountain. Before even trying to join the others and scale it, my daughter asked me to help her get to the top. She’s my fourth child, so by now I have my policy and my answer down pat. “I want you to do what YOU can do,” is not something new to her ears. I don’t usually help my kids climb things. I’d rather they figure out their own body’s capabilities and limits. This is why:
She set off and began at the whale’s tail. Inch by inch, I watched as she pulled and pushed with her entire body. She was focused and determined, even and maybe especially, as older kids climbed over and past her body. I could hear little grunts as she rose higher and higher, finally making it to the flatter part of the whale’s back where she could catch her breath. She sat there, straddled at the top, with a look of sheer satisfaction. I’m so glad I didn’t take that feeling away from her. When her eyes connected with my eyes she smiled big and yelled, “Take a picture of me, mama. Take a picture and send it to papa.”
Over and over she climbed that whale, until it was time to go and I had to deny her “just one more time.” On our way to the car, I recounted how she asked me for help earlier. She said, “Yeah, and you told me to do my best and I did!”
“Mama said do what you can do,” I gently corrected, to which she replied, “And that means do my best, mama.”
So I’m taking my own advice and doing what I can do. Whether it’s homeschooling, freelancing multiple jobs, being there for my friends, finding a new rental for my family- actually it’s all of the above and more- I’m doing what I can do, which means I’m doing my best.