November 23, 2009

Facing Our Fears

Teach your children  - Crosby Stills Nash

Maybe I am getting older. I used to be able to go full bore for months at a time and never notice. I had a metabolism that destroyed million calorie meals. The body was rock solid and I was relatively fearless. Relative meaning that there were two or three things that scared me, but they were limited to the highly unlikely like being eaten alive by some creature.

Today I am nursing a cup of coffee and a body that has more than a couple of aches and pains. The hardest part of the day is this nagging voice in the back of my head. A little whisper of doubt that asks me why I don't just give in and let myself fall into the abyss that waits below.

Ego and stupidity provide enough strength to stave off the doubt. For a while longer I'll ignore the whispers and somehow stay afloat long enough to see daylight.

*************

It has been busy. Life has been exceptionally busy and I have found myself doing the fire dance more than I might like. Into the flames I fall and then I bob, weave, hop and skip my way to the other side. And if I am lucky I find that aside from a scrape or two, there is not much damage.

And thus we come to the part in which I speak of how the children made my heart swell with pride. It is not just because of exceptional parent/teacher conferences, though they were great. Great academic reports that included descriptions of children who are gentle souls that are well liked and look out for other kids always make me happy.

There are a half dozen tales that could be shared, but I want to focus on two.

Saturday we found ourselves at a high ropes course. A wooden tower that was about 100 feet high stood before us. Four different starting points and a multitude of choices once you began your ascent offered a health challenge. It looked similar to the picture below.

I used to love these types of challenges. They were fun and they made my heart pound. But somewhere along the way they started to make me nervous and angry. Angry because it used to be easy for me to do and now, well it is harder.

My son has never liked this kind of stuff. He is not a fan of fast rides, roller coasters and the like. I have always told him that I don't care about that. No reason for him to do these things unless he wants to.

The dark haired beauty is different. That girl is fearless which is part of why I am losing my hair. I see the look in her eyes and I recognize it. It is the same one that used to be implanted in my own. But I am like every parent, risks are different when I take them.

She looked at the tower and without hesitation told me she was going to climb it. So we made it happen. She got a harness and got in line. After a while her brother insisted that he wanted to leave. I told him that it wasn't going to happen and that he had an obligation to support his sister as she would him.

There was some grumbling and then he was silent. A short time later the grumbling resumed and I got irritated. I told him to stop being selfish and he told me that he doesn't like climbing towers and a lightbulb went off in my head.

I sat down with him and told him that I didn't care if he climbed it. It didn't change my feelings about him at all. And then I told him that it scared me and that I wanted to climb it twice. He asked why I would climb it twice and I said that it was because the first time I wouldn't enjoy it much. The fear was going to bother me, but that I knew that the second time it wouldn't.

A few moments later he told me that he wanted to try. I told him that he didn't have to and that I wasn't trying to convince him. He said that if I was willing to try then he would to. And he did.

He scrambled up that thing like a monkey, would have made it to the top except he made the mistake of looking down and got scared. But I didn't care. The whole point is that he stepped out of his comfort zone to push himself. He took a chance and I love that.

It was great.

*************************

Yesterday morning the dark haired beauty earned the name "Indiana." I was wrestling with her brother and he yelled for help. So she climbed up on the bed and started humming the theme to Raiders of The Lost Ark. She then pretended to swing over and jumped on top of me yelling that she would rescue him.

I loved it. The two of them fight like all siblings do, but there are moments like that last one that make it clear that they have a very strong bond. It makes me proud and happy to see that. I hope that it never goes away.

3 comments:

john cave osborne said...

i loved this. our eight year old is an athlete, and her on-the-field exploits often prove to be bonding experiences for us. she knows how into sports and fitness i am. she knows, at age 40, i can still backback 80 miles over tough terrain in 4 days. she also knows that i know how cool she thinks that is.

when i look at my two-year-old triplets, i understand it's overwhelmingly likely that they will turn out quite differently from one another. i want to make certain not to favor one over the others for having interests that are more in line with mine. everyone's different, and everyone has different strengths. as a father, i want to build the positive by encouraging growth in any number of positive directions. you clearly subscribe to the same philosohpy.

this was a great post... -jco-

James (SeattleDad) said...

That was a great post Jack. I hear you about not being able to do the things you once could and resenting the fact. I can relate.

Sounds like you gave your son exactly the type of support that he needed. Well done.

Jack said...

JCO,

There is nothing better or harder than being a father. It is a constant joy and struggle.

And as you know, each kid is different so you have to take a different approach. It is a challenge, but fun.

James,

Sucks getting older sometimes, ;) But it is better than the alternative.

I am just happy that this worked out this time.