“I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I—think—I—can, I—think—I—can.” It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

In the past 3 years I’ve read “The Little Engine that Could” so much that every time one of my children pulls it from the bookcase I let out an audible sigh and cringe inside.

It’s not that I don’t like the book. It’s just that I think I have every sentence memorized and I’m ready to move on to more exciting children’s literature like Harry Potter and Little House on the Prairie.

But today I learned a good outdoor parenting lesson. I need to smile every time one of my kiddos pulls himself onto my lap with our tattered copy of  “The Little Engine that Could”–and read it with gusto. Here’s why.

This morning we headed out on an easy family hike. My 3 1/2 year old insisted on “hiking with his bike”…it was the first time we’d brought his balance bike along.

We started down the trail, enjoying a beautiful spring morning.

But, eventually the path got rocky and steep.

My husband and I hung out behind our son as he navigated the difficult terrain. We wanted him to figure out how to tackle it on his own.  But, like most children the challenge frustrated him. In his mind he wanted to ride up the hill but his body wouldn’t cooperate.

I was surprised when all of a sudden he started saying to himself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” repeating it over and over as he navigated his tires around the jagged rocks.

My husband and I looked at each other as if to say, “huh?”

At the top of the hill when the trail got easier he smiled and started saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could.”

However, one time the power of positive thinking didn’t work and he needed help. We can’t just think we can do something without putting forth some effort.

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My kid is awesome and I love him…but I think this story is really one about the power of the human mind.

“I think I can.”

“I think I can.”

“I think I can!”

There’s strength there. To say the phrase “I think I can” means—I’m not sure I can do this, I might fail but damn it, I’m going to try.

The strength is not in conquering the rocky hill, it’s in trying to attempt to climb the rocky hill in the first place.

We might fall, we might be scared, we might not trust our equipment.

But there’s beauty in trying.

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So it’s Sunday night…tomorrow starts a new week.

What is the one thing you’re going to try to do this week that you just might fail at trying?

I’m going to try to be better at reading the same story over and over and over again without getting annoyed. Wish me luck 😉

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