The other day my four-year-old neighbor approached me with an outstretched hand. On her palm lay a large, listless grasshopper. Lucy said, “Look what I have. It’s a grasshopper. I pulled it off another grasshopper. They were stuck together!”
To which her mom replied with raised eyebrows, “Now you have a grumpy grasshopper.”
Little did she know her need for “unsticking” the grasshoppers was totally off. She thought she was helping the insects when they were actually just fine. Most likely she really was in possession of a grumpy grasshopper. Four-year-old’s are not the only ones guilty of thinking they are being helpful when really things are better off without the involvement of others. When we see what we think is a problem for someone else we want to fix it. We offer advice and opinions, and involve ourselves when really people aren’t stuck at all. They could be right where they need to be because of choices they made, choices that differ from our own.
If observing the choices of others is hard for you, recognize your lesson might be, to be less involved. We all get to make our own choices and when we get stuck we can ask for help, but ultimately getting “unstuck” is up to us individually. Giving a person space to figure things out on their own, allows them to make their own decisions. Making mistakes is how we learn from our decisions. Good decision making takes practice.
As a parent of teenagers, I often have to let my children make choices that I would like to be different. Reminding myself that my kids (and self) are continually learning keeps me from overstepping my boundaries. Stepping aside and letting both good and bad decisions occur without my involvement prevents me from making grumpy grasshoppers.