The other day, we took my toddler to his first birthday party with other kids. Of course, he attended his own first and only birthday party several months ago, but he’s never been to anyone else’s. This one was held in a pizza restaurant, and I was struck by how bold my little guy was.
While my husband chatted with the hosts, I ran behind my son, Konan, as he made a beeline for one table, and then another. His favorite was the one where two large bearded fellows, who would have looked at home on motorcycles, were sitting. Konan ran right up to them, and stared open-mouthed as they, somewhat surprisingly, smiled and talked with him
Then he discovered the adjacent kids’ arcade, and kept running over to one special game that was sitting there, unused, but displaying fascinating blinking lights.
I stayed close by, yes, but I almost think that if I had quietly disappeared, Konan would not have noticed or cared. This was in stark contrast to when I’ve dropped him off at daycare for a few hours, and he cries and hugs me tightly, trying to get me to take him away. Once I leave and he realizes there’s fun to be had, he’s fine, but he sure doesn’t want to let go.
It’s sort of like a simpler version of what we all do: we’re scared to try something new, especially if it means being left alone. But if we’re in our comfort zone, and know we’re safe, we start to act bolder and take bigger risks.
So while it seems like Konan didn’t care that I was around at the birthday party, chances are if I did leave him and he realized it, he might have been upset. Then again, it could just be that initial parting that’s the painful part — kind of like that heart-stopping moment when you decide to jump off a diving board (or, for the more daring among us, jump out of a plane).
Think about the last time you started a new job or business venture. At first, you were probably pretty nervous. You weren’t sure exactly what you were doing, and you wanted to take things slowly. Then, after awhile, you got more confident and didn’t have to think so hard about every move. Finally, what used to be daunting became second nature, and you could start taking bigger risks.
Similarly, if you really do jump out of airplanes, I would imagine that each time you do so, it gets easier and easier (I don’t actually want to test that theory first-hand; I’ll take your word for it!) Ditto with riding a bike, driving a car, or learning anything new.
The only difference for a toddler is that life is much simpler. “Comfortable” is whatever involves Mommy or Daddy being around, while “adventure” means anything new, preferably that involves having Mommy or Daddy around.
But as Konan’s learning, the best way to have fun — and the best way for the rest of us to achieve something great — is to sometimes get out of that comfort zone. In fact, if you really want to see what you can do, run out of your comfort zone at full speed… the way Konan did at the birthday party.
And when you’re off to the races, you’re always a winner, because at best you win… and at worst, you enjoy the run.
“Arcade” © eyeliam
“Flying Like a Bird” © Albany Tim