Someone recounted a time to me yesterday that I dispensed some particularly good advice, but she couldn’t remember the wording. Neither, sadly, could I. So I thought that writing about the motivation behind my forgotten words might trigger something.
My friend is going through a time of fear relating to a specific environment. She remembered that I once explained why I take my daughter on so many different types of days out. On the low key end, we visit castles, theatre, museums, galleries and all the usual malarkey (not often to the cinema as for the most part, she really isn’t a fan! Argh!!). But on the higher key end, we walk around aquarium tanks, go on fast rides and zip wire through the trees. I am not sharing this saying ‘woo hoo, what a good parent I am’, but to explain the beginning of the rationale behind it.
I became a single parent when my daughter was three. I didn’t have any particular aspiration to jump back into a relationship, and I read a lot of the possible effects of not having a male role model predominantly in a child’s life. The first area I read about was to do with vocabulary. Apparently, children get most of their new words from their dad’s. I can see how historically this could be true. Men were out in the wider world, with industry specific language, which would then filter into the home. However, I don’t know how applicable this would be today. And this is not something that I would be concerned about as an issue in my home. I have a sizable vocabulary, my daughter reads widely and we see lots of people. New words are always abundant! The second area that I read about concerned me more. It was to do with risk.
I was a child who wouldn’t go on piers, didn’t like heights and generally wigged out about a lot of things. I wasn’t entirely without risk, I rode horses and loved fairgrounds, but I sensed that this would not be enough. I did take my daughter to horse riding lessons when she was around six. This came to an abrupt halt when one fateful day my brother’s girlfriend was asking her about her lessons, and saying that she used to ride too. She also said that it sometimes hurt her bottom. My child agreed, adding that it also hurt her bits too (Cue a room of adults looking at each other slightly awkwardly and somewhat amused). After a brief chat with her, it transpired that she no longer wanted to do horse riding! But then I was left in a situation where there was very little risk in her life. We got a scooter, and she also developed a propensity for climbing trees. The climbing has continued.
The climbing has continued. On one camping holiday, she easily made it thirty foot up a tree. I will confess to no small amount of panic. But I knew that this was my issue to get over, not her issue to absorb. So I braved it. There was tree top challenge adventure locally to us, so will a trepidatious heart, I booked us in.
Sweet Moses. This thing was skyscraper high! I clung to every tree for dear life, all muscles tensed and the sweat dripped. In reality, its highest point was around twelve meters. When I had finished this first foray, I was exhausted, I ached, but there was also a slight exhilaration. I had done something which I had not previously deemed myself capable. And that had a knock on effect.
Most primarily the effect was lots more tree tops challenges. I learnt to trust the wires that held me, and that gave me the confidence to jump, swing and climb even higher. So much fun! The strangest thing was that from my second experience of it, it no longer exhausted me. It was then that I realised how crippling fear can be, and how much energy it uses. We now go on much higher zip wires, and although I sometimes have a bit of a wobble with the height, I know that I have trust, and the moment passes. And this is what I want to impart to my daughter. Some things are a little bit scary, but trusting the equipment and people around you (and also yourself) can make the difference between finding the grit and determination to do something compared to sitting on the side, feeling a sense of disappointment. I guess this is not a battle that I win all of the time, finding that perseverance to keep going when things get hard takes a lot of energy. And some days I just don’t have it. But I am learning to find more.
I hope that my daughter can see the strength that she inspires in me, and hopefully me in her as well.
Map Point. Where in my life do I want to take more risk?