“It’s too hard. I can’t do it,” Jane sobbed into the sleeve of her shirt, feeling ashamed.
Mother bent down and lifted Jane’s face out of her arms. “Jane, dear, look at me.”
Still feeling pretty lousy, Jane looked into her mother’s eyes.
“It’s ok to take a break when things get too hard. But don’t give up… not if it’s something you really want to do. If you keep trying you’ll be able to do it eventually, I promise. The key is to just not give up.”
“But it’s so hard,” Jane replied, looking back at the table piled high with arts and crafts supplies, still thinking she would never be able to make a mask like the one she’d see on TV.
“It is. But, can I share a secret with you?”
Mother got Jane’s attention immediately.
Jane loved secrets.
“All the best things in life are hard to do. If they were easy they wouldn’t be nearly as fun.”
“What was her mother talking about?” Jane thought. “Hard things weren’t fun. How could they be? They were hard!”
“Oh, little duck,” her mother said. “I can see you don’t believe me. Shall I give you an example? Well, what if I told you right now to go put your shoes on and tie your laces, would that be fun?”
“Ugh, no!” Jane quickly responded. “That’s BORING!”
“It is, isn’t it? But it wasn’t always.” Mother had a sly smile on her face. “Do you remember the first time you tied your shoe laces”
Jane thought back to the first time her mother had taught her how to tie her shoe laces. When she’d finally got the hang of it they had danced around the house laughing and smiling. That had been a lot of fun and it had felt so good to see her mother’s proud face looking down on her when both shoe laces were perfectly tied. That had been a REAL accomplishment!
“Yes, we had so much fun dancing around the house. It felt really good to be able to tie my own shoelaces.” Jane said
“But,” she continued, “now it’s no big deal. I tie them all the time. How come it was fun then, but it’s not fun anymore?” Jane looked at her mother confused by the realization that she used to have fun tying her shoe laces, but now she didn’t anymore.
Her mother was smiling from ear to ear as she said, “Because the first time you tied your own shoelaces it was hard for you. You see, when we are finally able to do something that was once hard for us it makes us feel good about ourselves. We dance and we’re happy, and for a while doing it is fun because it’s new. Right now, making a lion mask is hard for you because it’s something you’ve never done before. It’s better to take a break if you need to and come back to it later than to give up completely. Because if you stop trying, you’ll miss out on the fun part of doing something hard: proving that you can!”
Jane looked back over at the table.
“I want to keep trying,” she said tentatively to her mother.
“I’ll stop and take a break if I get frustrated again, but right now I want to keep trying.”
Mother smiled at Jane encouragingly, which gave Jane an idea.
“Ummm… Mom? Actually, can you help me? I think if you showed me what to do I bet I’d learn even faster… just like when you taught me how to tie my shoes.”
Mother walked over to the table, picked up some yellow paper and the scissors and started explaining to Jane exactly how to cut the paper to create the perfect lion’s mane.
When she had finished, Jane excitedly grabbed the paper out her mother’s hands to try for herself.
Jane’s mother watched as her daughter copied everything she had shown her and perfectly cut out strands for the lion’s mane.
“I did it!” Jane exclaimed, holding the strips of paper up for her mother to see.
“I knew you could,” her mother responded, pulling her tight into a hug. As she let go, she reached for her phone and put on Jane’s favorite song.
The two of them danced all around the house celebrating Jane’s latest accomplishment: Not just learning how to make a paper lion mask, but learning the importance of never giving up!