“Austin’s mom, Austin’s mom! Will you push me?”
I can’t tell you how many times I heard this on the playground yesterday. I visited a local park with my youngest for a field trip with four first grade classes. The swings hung so high above the ground that the kids needed help getting on, and then of course they wanted a few pushes to get them going. They decided three pushes would be sufficient. So I got part of my workout yesterday pushing numerous kids repeatedly. I loved it!
As I pushed them, some told me stories. One of my favorites was from a little girl who told about her aunt recently having a baby. “I have a little cousin now. He is a treasure!” she beamed. My heart melted a little right then.
I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about how we know it’s time to ask for help, and when it’s appropriate to offer it. I’d like to use some examples from kids on the playground to illustrate my ideas.
1) The Quick Fix:One little guy was having quite the difficult time. His pants were super loose and he ran around in imminent danger of showing the world his underwear. He clomped along behind his friends with one hand hitching up his britches. “Hey guys, wait up! I can’t run that fast,” he’d holler. He managed to prevent a bigger problem, but this wasn’t really a solution was it? This little guy wasn’t asking for help, but I knew I might be able to make his life a bit easier. Having little guys myself, I know most waistbands are adjustable these days. I called him over to me, and sure enough he had the elastic on the inside. With his permission, I tightened them up and sent him on his way. He had both hands free then to scurry up the climbing wall. Problem solved. Lesson: if someone offers help and they have the knowledge to do so, take it. If you see someone struggling, offer assistance if you can. There is freedom in utilizing the skills and knowledge of others, and blessings come from coming to the rescue of our friends..
2) I Can Do It Attitude: Sometimes people have a problem, but they have the resources and the determination to fix it. One little girl was struggling a bit. I asked if she needed help. “No, I can do it.” Pause. “But thanks anyway for asking!” Don’t you love that? She knew she could do it, and she did, but she paused to say thank you. We can always offer help, but sometimes people don’t want it, or aren’t ready for it. However, isn’t it good to know someone is there if we do need help?
3) A Leg Up: Often when we have a problem, we know we can address multiple aspects of it, but there may be just one portion on which we are stuck. Some kids didn’t want me to push, they just wanted me to get them into the swing. One step of the process was enough. Be willing to help with what’s needed, then back away. Too much help might only cause irritation.
4) A Healthy Dose of Self-Awareness: Many people don’t ask for help until it’s too late. All of the kids who wanted to swing and couldn’t get up on it were vocal about it. They knew there was a problem and asked for help. Individuals will wander around a store or library for a ridiculous amount of time before they ask a worker for what they are in search of. I’ve heard it said that too often by the time a couple who is in crisis asks for help in their marriage, it’s nearly too late. The problems have gone on too long. Recognizing there is a problem and admitting it, are key to getting the solution. If you are struggling in some area of your life, don’t be afraid to say to a good friend, “Hey, will you push me?” Don’t miss out on joy because you are too prideful to seek or accept help.
Helping these kiddos made me feel useful. And, I got to know them better in the process. I think I had way more fun than the parents on the sidelines playing on their phones. (But that’s a post for another day).
Bottom line: ask for help when you need it, and offer it when you can. We’d all be better off with a few pushes now and then.