Little Boy currently has a small bruise on his cheekbone, the result of face-planting on a wooden puzzle piece while trying to reach for another toy. At eleven months old, he remains steadfastly opposed to any tummy-down activities, but has begun to notice that there are interesting things just out of his reach. His approach to acquiring these objects from a sitting position is to lean as far forward as he possibly can, which, it turns out, is pretty far. He’s started to realize that he can stretch a little bit farther if he tucks his legs around rather than leaving them stuck out in front. Eventually—hopefully—these efforts will put him on his hands and knees.
However, he hasn’t quite figured that last part out yet. Sometimes, when he reaches extra hard for that toy, he loses his balance and tips forward onto his head, whereupon he promptly rolls onto his back and starts loudly complaining about the indignity of it all.
I can’t stop him from falling, much as I want to. I can make sure he’s falling on carpet and mostly avoiding wooden puzzle pieces, and I can offer tickles and hugs as needed after he falls. But I can’t teach him to crawl perfectly. I can encourage and demonstrate, but in the end it’s something he has to figure out for himself, falls and all.
I need to keep this point in mind for my adult life. I’m used to staying on safe ground, keeping in balance, reading all the rules before I start—generally wearing metaphorical padded cushions.
But sometimes, the only way to learn is to try repeatedly, fail repeatedly, and keep trying.
Sometimes, you have to fall on your face.