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What My 6-Year-Old Daughter Taught My 6-Year-Old Self... 30 Years Too Late

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GIRL ON MONKEY BARS
Todd Warnock via Getty Images
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When I was a young girl on the school yard, I would marvel at the girls who could spin and flip around the bars.

You know the move; one leg hiked over a bar and then you use your body strength to propel yourself around it and sit back on top.

I could never spin around the bar.

I blamed it on my long legs.

So I would sit there day after day and watch my friends spin around with glee, out-spinning each other, adding new spins to their repertoire. And I would just watch from the side, waiting anxiously for us to move on to another activity.

My daughter is in grade one. She has long legs, like her mother did. And back in the Fall, in her first few months on that big school yard, she came home talking about the bar and how all the girls were spinning around it and it looked so cool.

It took me right back to my days spent staring at that bar.

"I always thought that looked cool, too," I told her. "But I could never do it. I wanted to, and I never could."

"I am going to do it," she said, determined.

I wanted her to do it, of course. But I silently warned her she may not be able to. And it would be OK if she couldn't. She would still find fun things to do, her friends wouldn't care, she could always use her long legs as an excuse.

Fast-forward seven months or so.

My daughter spends every recess waiting in line to spin on that bar. It's a long line, so each kid only gets maybe one or two turns before their time on the yard is up.

She spent many weeks in that line, making her way to the front, climbing onto the bar, hiking her lithe, long leg over the top... and sitting there.

Then a few weeks ago... she finally did it. I was so proud of her. She had done something I had always dreamed of doing, she took a challenge on headfirst and accomplished it, she was filled with glee.

"How did you do it?" I asked her, ready for a detailed account of hand positioning and fancy, first grader spinning techniques.

"I dared myself," she said.

"You dared yourself?" I asked.

"I dared myself," she repeated, with an "obviously" tone of voice.

And in that moment, at 35 years old, it made perfect sense to my 6-year-old self.

It wasn't my long legs that wouldn't let me spin around that bar all those years ago.

It was my own fears. My own worries. My own insecurities.

I didn't dare myself.

And 30 years later, a very wise little first grader has taught me a lesson I wish I had learned at her age. Whether it's a bar on a playground or a challenge at work or a dream you've never made a reality...

You need to dare yourself.

You need to get up on that bar. You need to feel it out for a minute. You need to forget about your long, gangly legs. You need to look around and sense all the eyes on you, all the anticipation, all the fear...and you need to dare yourself to do it.

And then you need to spin with glee.