The Difference Between Can’t and Shouldn’t


When Jake was first born, I used to subscribe to Parenting magazine and I would scour the web to learn how Marc and I could become perfect parents.   Back then I thought there was something I could learn from these articles in magazines and on the web.  By now I have come to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  I tell the boys that we are not perfect parents, but we are perfect for them.  I guess that is simply because no one else could ever love them the way we love them.

Somewhere in these articles, I remember reading that you can help with the terrible twos if you don’t use the word “can’t” around your toddlers.  And so, I set out to eliminate this word from our vocabulary.  I tried not to use the “c” word, and even went so far as to fine my kids 25 cents every time they used the “c” word.

It definitely had an impact on the kids.  One of my favorite sayings is: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are right.”  The power of positive thinking is a lifelong ally, and teaching the boys the CANDU attitude was a good move.  Chalk one up to Marc and Crystal.

So this week, Jake took the candu attitude and used it to his advantage.  He has been wanting to join a paintball team for two years now – but there really just aren’t any paintball teams around that are interested in having a 15 year old teammate.  So Jake, pulled out his positive attitude.  He contacted fellow paintball lovers, and got 7 other interested pals.  He contacted a few potential sponsors, put together a practice schedule, a tournament schedule and as I type, he is having his first team practice at Panic City Paintball.  Way to go fella.

But this very same week, between emails to potential sponsors, and chats with new teammates, Jake found the time to get the old dune buggy back on the road.  He even did one better.  He took it for its inaugural run on the trails.  Because there is no such word as “can’t”,1239867_522392637847336_1022925065_n he decided to take the buggy, powered by a lawn mower engine, down some pretty gnarly trails.

And here is where he found out that the line between “can’t” and “shouldn’t” is generally quite blurred.  Jake found out that, although he could take the buggy on the trails, perhaps he shouldn’t have gone down that big hill.  Even while driving down the monster hill, Jake knew that this little putt was not going to make it back up the hill.

I cannot do the story justice.  Jake tells the story of his attempt to try to get his beloved dune buggy back up the hill.  He starts by trying to drive it up – FAIL.  On the next attempt he gets it up as far as possible, jumps out while grabbing the gas pedal with one hand, and trying to coax it up with a combination of brute strength and whatever help the engine can offer.  FAIL again.  Then he tries to jump out while he still has a little momentum.  This time when the buggy begins to roll back on him, he grabs a tree branch to offer himself a little more stopping power.  But he did not take into account the slope of the hill and the weight of the dune buggy.  As he grabbed onto the tree, refusing to lose any ground, gravity took over and the dune buggy literally rolled over him.

This time he let his f’ing buggy roll down the f’ing hill. not caring if he f’ing ever got that f’ing buggy back to the f’ing truck.  F#ck it.

Marc eventually came to the rescue and the buggy is back in our garage, in need of some repairs.  I assume Jake will resume his love affair with the thing once his recent experience becomes a laughable memory.  But the whole thing got me to thinking.  Maybe we should have spent some of these early years explaining about “shouldn’t”.  There are lots and lots and lots of things that you CAN do, but lots and lots and lots of these things that you CAN do, you SHOULDN’T do!!

'What did I say? 'People in glass houses shouldn't hang pictures'.'

‘What did I say? ‘People in glass houses shouldn’t hang pictures’.’

Oh well.  We still have one more kid.  Maybe we will do better with that one.



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