Recently my youngest started asking questions like-

‘Are you sure this is okay to do?’
‘Are you sure this is safe?’
‘You’re sure Mommy?’

Instead of leaping from the couch cushion to her blanket island floating in a sea of ‘lava’ she now pauses and calculates the distance; ‘Are you sure I can make it that far? I don’t know Mommy, that’s a long way.’ Halfway across a log bridge over the creek she pauses to ask ‘Is this safe? You’re sure?’. Climbing into the seat of the ‘big girl swing’ she remains steady but again asks ‘Are you sure?’.

My sure-footed daredevil of a four-year-old who has never batted an eye in the face of danger or opposition has suddenly started to question herself. And worse, for my heart anyway, she has started to question my guidance. ‘Are you sure?’… Her voice is still the sweetest sound, but the notes of hesitation to trust herself embed a bitterness into it’s lilt.

The thing is, until recently she knew she was capable. But something has happened to cause this shift in her confidence. I ask myself- was it something I said? Did my telling her to be careful cause her to doubt her ability? Did my caution infect her and taint her conviction? If not me, than who? Or what?

It makes me wonder, do we start to doubt ourselves naturally, or are we taught to do so? If no one ever questioned us or cautioned us, would we wield such confidence as the fearless four-year-olds we once were? What could we have achieved with such a weapon in our arsenals; alongside our determination and imagination?

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