Can we all agree that there are few things as mortifying as falling down in front of people? Any people, really. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you if I would rather fall in front of a group of strangers or a group of people I know. I’d rather not do it at all. It is embarrassing. Unless you are a comedian, prone to doing pratfalls engineered specifically for getting laughs, falling down is likely something you’d rather not do. Which is funny (isn’t it ironic?) because few of us can go through life without falling down.
I have fallen up stairs. I have gracelessly tumbled down stairs. I have tripped over my own feet, my children’s feet and cracks in the sidewalk that must have jumped out at me. I have fallen on my way into daycare, outside of my doctor’s office and numerous times while enjoying nature. Each time, there is that moment where I hope and pray that maybe – no matter how many people are around – no one saw what just happened.
Liam took a dramatic spill while we were at the neighborhood Halloween party, skinning his knee a bit but more than anything, bruising his ego. Physically he was fine, but his gentle spirit was a little worse for the wear. His neighborhood buddy, a fellow second grader, approached him gracefully, putting his arm around my guy and walking him over to a chair – telling him that he was okay. I sat with him for a few minutes and told him he was fine (because he was) and then urged him to get back up and go play. I could tell he felt embarrassed, despite the fact that no one laughed at him or made fun of him, it’s just how it goes. After a semi-reasonable amount of time, he was back at it again, doing the very things that had made him fall down in the first place, thankfully not shying away from something he obviously enjoyed simply because he had taken a spill.
A few days later, I pointed out a bruise on Liam’s knee and he reminded me it was from Halloween and that fall. Which got the idea of falling – both literally and figuratively – on my mind. I started wondering how you engender in your kids the idea that we all fall down and despite how embarrassing it might be at the time, that embarrassment shouldn’t paralyze us because it (falling) happens to everyone – how much better would you feel if you weren’t the only one who fell at that very moment? You wouldn’t feel so alone… but in reality, we aren’t alone in the experience because we have all be there in one way or another, just at a different time. In this instance, Liam came around and got back to doing what he had been doing, he didn’t let it scare him off or keep him away from enjoying something simply because he had fallen. Sometimes, though, the fear of a possibility does keep us from moving forward, from revisiting situations where we could get hurt or trying new things where the ground isn’t certain. For Liam, I hope the next time it happens, he responds the same way and keeps moving forward, keeps persevering.
And what gifts are the people are who come alongside us when we fall and help us get up off the ground, again both literally and figuratively. Those people make it possible for us to lift our chins up when all we want to do is bury our heads. Liam’s friend comforted him, showing him empathy and compassion, which enabled him to get back in the game (or onto the scooter, as the case was). The people in our lives who speak truth and bolster us up are so very necessary if we want to recover from a fall; they share the burden.
We all stumble, we all fall (some of us more spectacularly so than others) and when we do, we have two choices: stay down and give up, or pick ourselves up and move forward – the pathway traversed a bit easier if we have help and companionship.
We all fall down.