I walked by at precisely the right moment. A young mother was crouched down next to her very young daughter on the sidewalk. It quickly registered they were discussing misbehavior.
“Now stand up and let’s try again.”
Those were the only words I heard the mother speak; barely above a whisper. There was a firmness to be sure, but her posture and tone painted a clear picture of love. The words within the context of this scene were striking and could not get them out of my head.
“Let’s try again.”
As I’ve spent time pondering the significance of this phrase, it has naturally started spilling out of my mouth to my own children and even to myself. The beautiful vision it has begun casting is that of a helping hand.
It’s not, “Go try again.” It’s “Let US try again.” Yes, you messed up, but I am here by your side to walk with you and navigate doing this again the right way.
And yes, you get another try. And another and another… because goodness knows I have needed a bazillion do-overs in my life and continue needing them every day. “Let’s try again” says there is grace here in our home and our family for all of us.
What does this look like practically? I offer you a small snapshot in the day of my life with a five-year-old, three-year-old, and eighteen-month-old twins.
My oldest is strong — like the kind of strong where other mothers are awestruck; always asking me how in the world he can do such and such on the playground. I see his strength as a tremendous asset in his future; however, I am currently tasked with helping him tame it by developing self-control in his not so tiny five-year-old body that is attached to a spirited mind.
Often he is too rough with his siblings. Pulling, “wrestling,” kicking, throwing, bouncing, picking up, running over, you name it.
As I pull him aside to cool off for what might be the 50th time that day, I remind him that his strength is a gift that needs to be mixed with gentleness.
In the context of correction the coming phrase feels powerful; conveying so many things. I’m encouraging him to try again, cheering on his side, because I have confidence that one day he will consistently harness that strength for good. So, before sending him back to play, I give a soft squeeze on his shoulders…