My youngest son was introduced to slacklining by friends and he fell in love. So I bought him one. That is the sort of passion chasing life we are looking to support here in our children. Buying the slack line was the easy part. (In case you don’t know slacklining is “Slacklining is a practice in balance that typically uses nylon or polyester webbing tensioned between two anchor points.” )
I am going to admit here, that it is way easier to support my children’s interests when the directions do NOT include words such as “serious injury and death.” I read through the users manual during breakfast. Then I waited. I mean he has to want to really do this and maybe he will forget. Some of you reading this are laughing cause you know a passionate child, used to being supported, doesn’t just forget. They are like a dog on a bone, chasing that stuff down! Which was also true in this case, he woke up, he wanted to go. It was time.
His brother on the other hand was most certain that he would not be leaving the house. My oldest son has stayed home on his own when we have gone to the pool. Mostly because he knows if he gets nervous he can make it to the pool in about 1 minute. This time though we were going to the park. Getting there would add 2 minutes to his trip and would include crossing the road on his own. This was bigger. I was once again hoping this fear would be big enough to push him to join us at the park. Again, if you know the cues of a child supported in pursing their right now in the moment interests, fear doesn’t ever win over. His desire to keep playing was bigger then his fear. Which is truthfully what I wish for. That my children never let fear get in the way of living fully. Time to think outside of the box. One child must leave and slackline, one child must stay home and minecraft while Skyping. Add second computer, second Skype account and mom can now be in the background just in case! problem solved.
Leaving the house geared up to slackline, already a little off my game because this whole leaving my child a crosswalk away is new territory for me. My own fear gauge is rising a little and we have not even started to set this beast up yet. We make it to our treed location and I re-read those terrifying serious injury or death directions. This is where mothering is it’s most challenging for me. Fear, threatens to spill out from me and all over my son’s happiness. All over his hope. So I have to push is back down and choose my words wisely.
The first set of trees did not work out for us. We tried, we read, we tried, we read and there was no taught line for us to walk on. My son’s face told me, giving up was not an option. So we found another set of trees. Closer together, line was indeed tightening. I was able to get the line just sideways of perfect. Those instructions though, about death were working hard to freak me the heck out! My son however looked at the sideways line and said “can I at least stand on it?” One deep breath to kick fear to the curb. Of course he could use it. Of course he could do this. And he did, he stood, he walked, he sat, he smiled.
There are countless opportunities for fear to creep in to parenting and change the course of the interactions I have with my children. It threatens time and time again not only to rob me of the moment but to cloud my children’s future experiences. I want my children to live a bold and adventurous life built on their own passions. I want them to chase down their dreams with enthusiasm and courage. For this to happen, in the right now moments when they are looking to me for guidance in how to be in the world, I must check my fear at the door.
My words do little to convince them if my actions scream, “be afraid be very afraid.” This is why when fear threatens to creep in and chase out the fun, I have to kick it to the curb. Breath through, fake it til I make. And simply look to the younger humans I am with and take a page from their naturally courageous, let’s do this attitude. Fear, did not stop my oldest son from choosing to stay in his happier place and fear did not stop my youngest from stepping up on the not perfectly straight slack line. A reminder, to me that the most important thing I can do for my children, is push my own baggage aside and let their naturally awesome selves shine on through.