So further to this, my son taught me a valuable lesson today. His dad had just cut him a Tangelo, just the way he likes it, which is to say divided into pegs, like a Portugal. Just as he was about to eat it, he decided that he wanted to go and cut a coconut with his dad so that he could have some fresh coconut water to go along with it. He handed me the bowl, and with extraordinary grace - I tell you, it was like a carefully choreographed ballet - I managed to break it while attempting to put it into the fridge.
After much sweeping and cleaning, we collected all the splinters (and of course throw away the Tangelo, lest any broken pieces managed to get themselves lodged in the pulp). My son naturally wanted another Tangelo. So I asked him to wait until his dad had finished what he was doing because "Mummy can't do it." What I really meant was "Mummy had never done it this way before" and "Mummy doesn't really enjoy peeling oranges", but you see how language can trip us up sometimes when we're conditioned to phrase things negatively.
My son looked at me and said, "Yes you can, Mummy. Look. You just need to cut it like this and this and this." His little hands mimicked the motions of a knife cutting vertically across the fruit. I smiled. "Okay," I agreed. "Let's try it." I placed the cutting board on the kitchen floor and asked him to walk me through it. "Like this?" I asked. "Mm hmm," he encouraged, until the whole fruit was pegged. I thanked him for showing me how to do something new - and for believing I could do it. He even ran over to tell his father, "Daddy! Look what Mummy did!" He was so proud of me, and proud that he had helped.
Most parents do this for their kids every day - little bursts of encouragement that make all the difference. But we rarely do it for ourselves or appreciate when our little ones do it for us. We also miss the nuances of how we word things - until a really astute or observant child points it out. "You can do it. Just try."