What My 5 year old Taught Me

Like many things in life, we started small.  We took baby steps.  What started with local sledding turned into requests to go snow tubing.  When the opportunity presented itself, I obliged.  This should be fun, right?

We made our way into the entrance and I looked back into my rear-view mirror.  His “Hippy” bunny was snuggled in his hand with his thumb in his mouth.  He looked terrified.  Uh oh, I thought.  Maybe we just made a 40 minute drive for nothing because surely this can’t go well if my 5 year old is already intimidated and my 3 year old hasn’t even laid eyes on the hills yet.  This could be another epic parental fail.

We got dressed, explained the rules and set out to find our snow tubes.  I could see the terror in his eyes that only a mother could identify with, but it was hidden beneath expectations of bravery.  We made our way up to the line to get instructions for how to get up the 5 hills.  I kept my eyes on all I could see of his eyes.  He wasn’t admitting his terror anymore than he was going to embrace defeat.

Yet.

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So he went.  I anxiously waited to see his eyes when he made his way down the descent.  He was horrified.

Stunned.

He turned to me with the fear of disappointment and said “Mommy, it’s too scary.”  Shocked, I said, “Are you sure honey?”

Honestly?  I thought about the amount of money we just spent in travel and tickets that we didn’t even have to spare in order to fulfill a dream he had been begging about for weeks.  Surely, this can’t be the case?  So I made a plea.  “Let’s try two more times and then if you still don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again.”

So there we went.

Anxiously anticipating his response, his sentiment had not wavered.  This was not his thing.  Meanwhile, his 3 year old sister had made her way down the treacherous hills designated for adults.  Not once or twice but several times.  Then, there it was.

My invitation.

I had a glimpse and flashback of all the ways in which I wanted to please.  I was too afraid to vocalize my fear out of the fear of disappointment.  As much as I wanted to be brave, courageous and take risks, I just couldn’t be who I wasn’t.  It always took me longer than most and I was innately cautious.  So was my boy.  He went down those steep hills but not without caution and no part of him did so without feeling entirely out of his comfort zone.  He also did so because he wanted to please and his fear of disappointment outweighed his anxiety down those hills.

Sure, it’s not a bad thing that he tried something new.  Hey, I did make him go down three times because we paid $20 for him to enjoy at least two hours of that hill.  Truth is, he tried and decided it wasn’t what he thought it was.  The operative word here is that he tried.  At the end of his third run, he turned to me as if he was seeking permission to retire.  I turned to him and said, “Yes honey, if you don’t like it, it’s okay.  We’ll go inside, get warm and eat lunch.”  I wanted him to know that taking risks is subjective.  He tried and it’s okay to try and still be afraid because aren’t we all?

He reminded me that even when we try something entirely outside our comfort zone, that there is value in finding out who we are in that terrifying moment.  He might always be more cautious like I still am, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need more cautious people.

He waited all season for that snow tubing excursion and like many of us, he had an idea of what it was going to be like in his head.  It didn’t turn out to be what he wanted, but I love that he tried.  At the end of the day what he taught me is that it’s okay to be who we are, face our fears and know that it’s better to try than to never try at all.

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In Love & Truth,
Grace

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