Holding back

Frame on eye chart

We were at the eye doctor this morning. As my daughter was reading the eye chart, she missed the final letter. In fact, it wasn’t a letter at all, but a number, which she wasn’t expecting.

It brought me back to the very first time one of my children mis-read the eye chart. It was my son, and he was almost three. At that age, he was reading the pictorial eye chart. I love that chart, by the way.

Here was my tiny little boy—still a toddler—sitting in the doctor’s chair, expected to read an eye chart, something he had never seen before. When he missed the first image, I wanted to jump in and say, “You know what that is. Look closely.” I had to hold my tongue. And hold it again when he missed another, and another.

As parents, we develop a need to teach our children when they mess up and jump in when they need our help. But there are times when we need to step back and hold our tongue. In this situation, I had to work hard, pressing my lips tightly together to prevent myself from speaking up. This was something he had to do on his own. Clearly, I did not know how his eyes were or were not working.

Since that day so many years ago, there have been many mis-readings of the eye chart. And each time, I am reminded of the things my children need to do on their own, the times when I should not jump in to help.

While holding back goes against every thread of my motherhood, each time, it gets just a little easier.

[Image credit: FreeImages.com/Brybs]

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