Asking for help doesn’t come easy for me, but I am getting better at it with practice and maturity. I’m more of a stubborn problem-solver, preferring to work alone until I figure out a solution. I think some of this comes from being introverted and enjoying the time to process problems, experiment with solutions, and discover what works and what doesn’t in my own time. Working alone is easier because there aren’t as many opinions or disruptions in the thought process. Some of this comes from being a shy kid and just being afraid to ask for help. Having to ask for help filled me with so much anxiety and dread that I learned to avoid having to do it at all by adopting a stubborn, “I can do it myself,” attitude. In some ways it has served me well.
I’ve moved heavy furniture by myself by putting a sheet under it and sliding it around until I got it into position. Due to my limited sewing ability, I once figured out how to reupholster a couch with fabric, a hot glue gun, and a prayer. I’ve piled things on top of other things to create a makeshift ladder when I didn’t have access to a real one. I was able to reach things I never thought I’d be able to reach. Basically, I have found a way to get what I needed without asking for help. I am what people call independent and there isn’t anything wrong with that, unless you really do need help, which happens to all of us eventually.
Being “independent” has been my mode of operation for most of my life. Then, along comes Tiny-Small. She has no fear of asking for help. She’s actually quite the opposite of me. I often find myself telling her to at least try to do something by herself first before asking for help. I want her to be a good problem solver when she grows up and not be totally reliant on other people. The funny thing is I sort of get her point, why should she struggle for hours when someone else can show her how to do something in a couple of minutes? Or why should she do it when she can get someone else to do it for her? Asking for help certainly saves time and energy. It also creates bonds between people. Helping someone seems to make us care about each other more. When we help someone it’s like we are investing in them so we want to see the fruits of our labors pay off. Not to mention, that old saying, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine,” didn’t develop out of thin air. There is a lot of truth to that. When you help people they are much happier to help you in return. We are social creatures, I mean, that’s what the scientists keep telling us, right?.
So, here we are, Tiny-Small and I have different skills and different strengths, but we are teaching each other how to live happier and more successful lives. I mean, just a few days ago I was showing Tiny-Small how she could use a lawn chair to help her climb onto a slightly out-of-reach swing and then kick the chair out-of-the-way once she is ready to start swinging. Meanwhile, almost daily, she is teaching me the importance of reaching out to other people and asking for help. She’s teaching me there is no shame in not knowing how to do everything or in relying on the expertise and strengths of other people at least some of the time. In some ways she is teaching me how to be a better friend or how to even make new friends. Not too long ago we visited a new park. Tiny-Small was up on a jungle gym when she saw another little girl was afraid to cross a bridge, so she went right up to her, held her hand, and brought her across the bridge. They were instant friends. It’s kind of strange to think that a three-year old child is teaching a 38-year-old woman how to make friends. You have no idea how much relief I feel when I see her making friends so easily. I’ve been so afraid that she would be shy like I was as a child. I’ve outgrown most of that now, but I am still not great at making new friends. I am so glad she is. Her childhood will probably be much happier than mine was. This makes me happy and sigh deeply in relief. Phew!
I thought as a parent that I would be doing most of the teaching. I thought I would be showing my daughter how to live a good life. It turns out this relationship is a journey filled with mutual growth. I am quite certain she is teaching me more about how to live a good life than I will ever teach her. Most importantly, right now, she is showing me the importance of asking for help. I am asking for help more often now and that slight change in behavior is opening doors for me, doors I never thought possible. It’s also making my life richer. I am really grateful to have Tiny-Small in my life. She is one of the best things that ever happened to me.