Think back to when you were 5. Who were you?
The best thing about having kids is that there is always one in the bunch that is an exact copy of a parent. For me, it is my daughter. She looks like me, has similar temperament, interests, and I just know, nobody dares to mess with this one. I tried to argue with her over a nap today. She is sick and needed rest. It went on for 3 hours. She persisted on staying up. She cried, but I am the one who lost. Believe me, I was very frustrated, and I got scary. Most kids would have cringed and given up. Not my daughter. She knew what she wanted and she fought on. My defeat was very clear, and she was the one laughing in the end. Just as a side note, she rules the family. She is my muse.
She also has a wiggly tooth. Her very first one. She has a new tooth poking out behind it, very much out of alignment. I decided to maximize the benefit of using today’s boring sick day into a “let’s take care of that tooth” day. I gave her a deadline to get it out by this weekend. This tooth has been wiggly for more than a month. As it turns out, she barely wiggles it because she is afraid of the pain.
While I was coaching her on wiggling her tooth, inevitably came the memories of my wiggly teeth. Then I realized something that is seemingly irrelevant. Over time, I became so sensitive. I became less driven and slower. Life did that to me. Having kids really made me more introspective and softer than soft serve ice cream at 40 degrees (Celsius).
What is the story of my wiggly teeth? My dad helped me maybe twice with my teeth in my entire life. I took care of them all by myself. One by one. Sometimes two at a time. I pushed it forward and back, swallowing the pain, and pulled it all out, molars included. My dad’s only advise: “Make sure you don’t pull out the same one twice.” The rest was my job. I was so self-sufficient that my dad never took me to the dentist. If I detected a wiggly, it was out by the end of the week.
(The first time I went to the dentist, I was 23. The dentist was shocked that I had never had any teeth issues, yet I had perfect teeth. I understand that I have good genes, but I have never met another person who has pulled out all their wiggly teeth starting at age 5, and never had any treatments, like yours truly).
This memory took me back to the days when I was purely just me. I had a crazy amount of drive. I was tough. Pain didn’t matter so much, as long as I was the one causing it to myself. At first, my dad was so shocked at my self-sufficient dental care. I took care of the bleeding and all. Being a war veteran and a tough guy all around, he enjoyed watching my toughness. He found it impressive and amusing, and I loved his approval. He wondered how he ended up with a girl who was like a bulldozer. Over time, as I got older, I got worried about not being feminine enough. I suppressed the powergirl persona, trying to fit in better as a female. Now, I somewhat have grit, but I am a softy compared to the fully charged bull I was when I was 5.
Today, I witnessed my daughter’s persistence. Her tooth experience made me realize that it is time to summon back the little girl who pulled out all the wigglies by herself, spitting out the blood in the bathroom sink. Imagine applying this skill to business. Pulling teeth out and spitting out blood like there is no tomorrow. Just get it done. Screw the pain.
What else was I when I was 5? I had big dreams of philanthropy. I wanted to be wealthy so I can help other people at a huge scale. My dream at the time was to build an excellent orphanage. This came to me after my mom died and I have to live with relatives for a year until I went to live with my dad. Silly enough, I felt that I had no purpose most of my adult years, and guess what? My purpose was already clear when I was 5. It got lost in the background noise of other people’s voices, and the voices of what is considered a “reasonable dream.” The voices of limitations. A 5 year-old is free from the background noise. She is pure.
5 was also when I asked my dad to buy me a diamond tennis bracelet. The answer was “No.” But I asked him almost every day, carrying around the flyer from the jewellery store for weeks. Persistence. Love of luxury. I am still the same 5 year-old.
Tap into your 5. You will rediscover your purest self and call on the skills that you already have, rediscover the truest you, which may have gotten buried and forgotten. Who you were at 5 is a reflection of your purest form; extremely aware, and free of limits.