When I was a kid in elementary school, I didn’t like to go to school. I was wicked smart, liked my friends and teachers, and didn’t have to ride the bus, I just preferred to stay home and read romance novels all day. As kids do, I practiced all my techniques for convincing my mom to let me stay home. Consequently, I was very good at pretending to be sick.
As a side note, I have since learned that when a kid “pretends” to be sick, he really is not feeling good on some level. It might not truly be a stomach ache, head ache, or (as I liked to say) The Scarlet Fever, but it is something keeping him or her from wanting to be exposed to the big bad world. My mom found the most loving way to help me cope.
My mom, who will always be much smarter than me, began the bartering process with the statement, “Please get up and try.” She knew that getting my warm little body out of my cozy bed and into some purple pants would get me started. Then, when I walked as slowly as humanly possible down the stairs and into the kitchen, she would use the “get up and try” to convince me to eat toast. I stared at that toast in the longest, most dramatic way a child can possibly stare until I realized that I really did want to eat it. And while I ate it so very slowly and with the smallest bites known to humans, she would pack me a lunch.
She would close the box and as she handed it to me, she would tell me there was a “surprise” in that box for me. And most of the time, that was enough to get me to school. The surprise, by the way, was not an extra cookie or a tiny toy, it was a love note from my mom. I still have one in her perfect handwriting cut from a tan notebook page. It says, “I love you. Mom” and it will permanently reside on my fridge in whatever home I occupy for the rest of my days as a reminder that My Mom is Great - and that I should always, always get up and try.
“Get Up and Try” works for more than just getting out of bed; it also works for tackling a new and challenging bouldering problem, for sitting down to a difficult conversation with a co-worker, for busting out work or reports before zoning out to “Weeds.” It works for steep and gnarly ski runs, hours of patience for kids (and the adults they bring with them), taking a hiatus from coffee, and pretty much anything that requires that extra bit of bravery that we can oftentimes disregard with the thought, "Oh, maybe I'll do that some other time..." Get Up and Try pretty much works for everything!
I still have those days when my bed is cozy, when it’s raining outside, when I have a long day ahead or have to do something hard at work or go somewhere I dread to go. I have days when I’m too tired, kind of spacey, not feeling sociable, and would just rather stay home and look out the window, nap with my cats, and read a really long, good book. But the truth of the matter is, whenever I actually do get up and try, I usually wish I had gotten up earlier. The slow walk down the stairs and the wait for the tea water to boil start to energize me from the soles of my feet right up to my much more resistant brain. I can still look out the window for a minute, pet the sweet kitties’ bellies, and read a short bit before packing my lunch, grabbing my goods, and blowing a kiss to the note on the fridge as I walk out the door.
Thanks, Mom, thanks for teaching me to Get up and Try!!