Life Lessons from my 6-year-old’s Slinky

Song Dedication: Fix You by Coldplay

Before I get into the meat of today’s write, I just want to honour my attempt at self-compassion.  I had written 3/4 of this post and then with one fell swoop and an unfortunate brush of my sleeve over my laptop, highlighted and deleted the entire effing thing.  CUE THE ANXIETY.  But I am going to try to recover what I can from my brain and allow myself this time-consuming error.  Be nice Sarah, it was an accident, a super shitty, waste of precious time accident, but maybe you will write something even better than what you had originally?  I am saying this but not completely buying it…breathing…letting it go now(ish)… (And push up your sleeves for the love of Christ.)

Where was I…Right, Bulletproof Coffee.  I sat down yesterday morning to drink my bulletproof coffee (a new addition to my low carb diet in an attempt to thwart oncoming migraines by taking away the fuel that gives my brain this pain).  In front of me and my frothy mug sat my son’s new slinky in a heap of tangled mangled coils.  I took another sip and picked slinky up, holding its broken body in my hand – assessing the situation.

My initial prognosis was bad.  There is no coming back from this state, it is effed, where’s the garbage.  I thought further about how slinky had come to meet this fate and realized a few things.  First, slinky had anti-climactically failed to do its intended job of head over tailing its ass down our stairs.  My son had then resourcefully decided to use my modest collection of books to engineer some smaller stairs for slinky to navigate, maybe slinky was just scared to go into the dark basement too?  Alas, the throwback toy of my youth did not deliver.  When slinky failed to walk down stairs, alone or in pairs, making its slinkity sound, a light sparked in his eyes and his brain’s synapses made the connection to one of his borderline obsessions of late, tornadoes.  Grabbing one end of slinky, twisting and swinging wildly, the metal spring became a tornado of mass destruction to all tiny things (dinky cars and lego people) in its fateful path.

My son’s ability to re-purpose and re-invent things often leaves us both with eyebrows raised in awe like where does he come up with this $#!t?  What we do know is we hope he never loses this ingenuity and insight.  He could have just given up on slinky, but he would not….well…until tornado-slinky became so entangled that it looked more like a demolished pile of rubble made by a tornado.

So my initial reaction was to let it go and chalk it up to that was fun while it lasted for 3 days.  But felt something internally tug on my guts as if slinky were begging me to not give up on it, even though it looked like a broken lost cause (did I see myself in slinky, yes I did…and so I answered its call for help).

Gently pulling at its free ends I tried to see where the labyrinth began.  Feeling overwhelmed I implored some not-so-gentle force, shockingly this did not help.  Of course, there is no quick fix…there never is when you want a quality solution (lightbulb…body connection).  I thought about slinky’s design and realized I probably needed to work with what was there, so I began to twist.  At first in the wrong direction, seeing this was making matters worse, I turned it counterclockwise and was pleasantly surprised to see it begin to unlock itself from itself.  Eyebrows raised and in awe of my own self I said to my husband, who had already attempted a fix, “Huh, this isn’t so bad, you just have to work with what it wants…”  Until that didn’t work.  At which point my whiplash thought process went back to “Nope, this is beyond help.”  As I placed slinky back on the countertop I exclaimed, “This can’t be fixed” feeling a twinge of guilt, or was it panic?

If I could give up on slinky so easily, how was I ever going to heal my own body and mind?  A body and mind that often felt and even at times looked like this crippled mass of coiled metal.  I must not give up. I took another swig of my quickly cooling coffee followed by a deep breath and re-engaged.  I was able to see that from the cyclical nature of the tornado treatment, the metallic corkscrew had intertwined upon itself.  I needed to not just use my hands to see this through, it was an arms and elbows thing (and heart thing).

With another 12 minutes of doing, or should I say being.  A whole-hearted application of pure mindfulness, we emerged in our ideal forms.  Slinky was reborn to its perfect, arcing, flexy spine and I…well…I had used my presence, self-compassion and determination to not give up; on myself or on the spring, the spring, the marvelous thing, everyone knows its slinky.





  1. Congratulations on saving the Slinky! Those things are not easy to salvage once they become tangled.

    And next time you accidentally delete a blog post, try hitting Ctrl-Z (undo) to try and retrieve it. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always worth a try. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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