This morning my daughter ate a piece of cardboard. She is 9 and this is not behavior you would typically expect at this age. Okay, so I won't be the least bit surprised if her brother eats cardboard at 9, or 19, but that's another issue. So why would my daughter willingly eat the piece of cardboard? Was it a dare? Was she showing off and being silly? No, she wanted to see if it was candy.
Last night my husband brought home a half dozen gourmet cupcakes from a fabulous local bakery. They were a gift from a political journalism organization trying to woo him into subscribing to their services. Each beautiful cupcake had a disc with the company's logo placed on it, about the size of a silver dollar. My daughter assumed that because they were on the tops of the cupcakes they must be edible, and therefore were candy. She could not be convinced that they were just cardboard despite our repeated assurances so she took a bite.
We are not sure why she wouldn't believe us. Did she think we wanted to keep all the candy discs for ourselves, to eat when she wasn't around? Did she think we were trying to deprive her of the candy discs because we'd just gotten back from the dentist? Who knows? The point is, she had to find out for herself whether or not they were in fact cardboard. The downside would be a mouthful of paper. The potential upside was tremendous.
And that is just one of the many reasons why I love and admire my daughter. She considers the downside but is always focused on the upside. The what if? She is not a reckless child, but she is a risk taker. And the world needs risk takers. We need people who look at the status quo and not only ask why, but just as readily ask why not? She is constantly coming up with new and creative ways of doing things. I find this exhausting - why can't we just do them the proven way? The efficient and easy way? We know the outcome. It is cardboard, not candy. But if everyone had that attitude then we'd still believe the world was flat, or that travel to space is not possible so why even try? I would be willing to bet that all the great thinkers and doers of the ages bit into some cardboard at one point in time. Maybe even more than once.
I am not a risk taker and never have been. I am way too conservative, worrying about the potential for things to go wrong. I work very hard to prevent disaster or messiness and this isn't a recent development because I'm now a mom or because I've gotten older. I spend a lot of time weighing the pros and cons to ensure a positive outcome. But the drawback is I will never experience the thrill of biting into what everyone else told me was cardboard, only to discover they were wrong and it was the best candy I've ever tasted.