If I were The Wizard of Oz for one day and I could hold court with all the troubled souls coming in and out of the Emerald City…oh what a day that would be.
Beginning with children, from all walks of life, all suffering from the same affliction…”know-it-all-ness.” It’s the first sign of a healthy, confident individual coming of age and also a curse to those on the fringe, struggling to find their way.
At this juncture, I give you the Cowardly Lion as a metaphor. Throughout Dorothy’s journey in Oz, he was her faithful companion, following her in the hopes of finding courage.
I would suggest that from the very beginning, the Lion represented a child. Impetuous, unpredictable, and full of energy and potential not yet channeled.
It doesn’t matter how I arrived at this realization or who I’m writing about. Because what I say could apply to just about any kid in the middle of growing up while trying to navigate the swift changes coming from every direction.
But I very much see this individual as more uncommon than common, with a penchant for having more depth of thought and raw emotion than that of his counterparts of similar age. The very extraordinary gifts he has been blessed with are what make him both unique and different. In time, unique gifts will be fully realized potential and the path will be a roadmap that clearly shows him why it was worth the journey. But it doesn’t work in reverse.
Time is a funny thing. Because in the meantime, the differentness is what makes this child’s life less bright as an old soul in a bright world waits for his peers to catch up with his depth of expression and emotion. To catch up to the wonderment of the world he sees in each and every thing in life. To curiously question new inventions, boldly express thoughts. And no, his differentness is not his friend as he continues to grow during what we’ve all been told are the “best years of our life”.
As parents, we try to help guide the way, raise them up when there are bumps in the road…and listen seeking to understand.
We see the world as it is…big, full of life, unlimited potential and opportunities. But our children, they already know it all. That is to say they truly do know it all…as much as they can know a day before the next day of knowing, living in a smaller world of a small classroom, in a neighborhood school. It’s all they know and sometimes the knowing is not enough.
The big picture comes later, past traditional learning. It begins with the first step they take outside the line and make a conscious choice to be different. It’s empowering, exhilarating and terrifying all at once. But once you realize that the whole world is made up of people just like you and completely different all at once, you realize you’re not so different so much as you are someone gifted with a spirit destined to do more.
So back at Emerald City, where I am counseling kids and thinking about that Cowardly Lion, I think my final thought is this. Our job is to give kids courage to keep going, keep trying…after failures and after successes. We do it through words, actions, however we uniquely show love and support.
But at the end of the day, the one thing they desperately need the most…what we possess and can’t give them. It’s perspective. And it can’t be bought or given by someone else. It can’t be taught in a classroom. It happens every second of every day we live. And our kids are on that path to perspective, but it’s going to take some time before they can see for their own eyes, what we want them to know when we already said they know everything they can right now. Maybe kids are supposed to be know it alls and as they grow, just like the Cowardly Lion, they earn their stripes…get their courage…find the perspective we wanted to give them, not realizing it has to be earned. In a heartbeat, like everything else, I would give it to you, my son. But this one must be earned and you’ll be wiser for it as you move a little further down your journey. Truth be told, I know it all now too…until tomorrow, when I’ll have just a little more perspective. Live in love, with a hunger for knowledge, and the courage of a lion’s heart. And never, never, stop. And you will learn just like you, perspective is uniquely owned and valued and when you get it, no one can take it away from you. And with it, you’ll find the courage to do even more.