We trailed the children as they ran off into the water slide section of the park. The first slide they ran right up to was this huge wave like slide that at the bottom had them fly up into the air and then land on the rest of the slide. I stood shocked looking around for my husband to show him what slide they were on line for. Realizing I had an expression of aww and shock, I took a deep breathe, shook it off and tried to play cool while at the same time grabbing for my phone to take not a picture, but a video. As I stood anxious and excited, part of me also waited for my oldest son, Wes to come running back saying he changed his mind. As he began to climb up, my husband joined my side just as amazed as I was and also grabbing for his phone. Yes, for a video.
Camera ready, pointed and there he goes!
As he popped up at the bottom smiling, I fought back some tears that were about to come down and gave a great big, "Yeah, buddy! That was awesome!!" His little brother quickly followed as he always does shouting, "That was epic!"
Later Wes very calmly and almost as a side note shared with us. "I was a little scared, but then I just did it and it was really fun."
We have had moments the past year building to this day. Moments of our most anxious and timid child braving his fears and trying new things. We have also had those periodic moments where we felt as if we were stepping back in time to his meltdown moments of anxiety and refusal to try anything new.
As the boys leaped off to the next biggest slide, thoughts filled my mind. We did it. No, we allowed him to do it... all on his own. He did it.
Wes was that child that clung for the first 30 minutes of an hour play date at a house you had been to 100X with the same other children every time. At age 4, he flat out refused to play soccer, but we signed him up anyway dragging him to practice trying every parenting tactic under the sun from the gentle encouragement to the bribing to the threatening until as parents we were flat out exhausted. Teachers always had to distract him. It took 3 visits for him to get a cleaning at the dentist and they still had to rip him off of me to even just get him in the room. Getting his weight at the doctors office, let's just say was always not fun (if we got it).
We learned what to anticipate, but also learned how to physically show calmness and look as if we were not anticipating the worse.
Play cool. Stay positive. Be calm.
We always asked if we was interested in a new activity ranging from athletics to the arts. We went to watch games would pause and watch all activities exposing him to as much as we could. Slowly, he started to initiate and started to say yes to things -all in his own time and several years after most of his peers began participating in these activities (which as a parent felt like decades). Parental anxiety would sometimes still creep in more than I would have liked.
Thoughts of... Will he do anything? Are we doing something wrong? Should we be doing something different? You have an early childhood education background, you should know what to do.
Always trying to follow these feelings with Play cool. Stay positive. Be calm.
I know there will be more of these up and downs and I know there will be so many doubting moments and struggles, but I will try to always take myself back to this water slide Ah-Hah moment. There will be more of these water slides and they will only get bigger for him and the best part, all by his choice. Not mine. Not my husbands. His choice.
After more reflection of this day, I made a mental correlation of how we have had to learn to parent Wes to how I coach and personal train my clients. Again an affirmation. The journey to health will be different for everyone. As long as we support and coach each other and remember to...
Play cool. Stay positive. Be calm.
We will bring out our inner strength and we will get there. You will get there. My job is to be there for you. Show you your options. Encourage you to reach your potential (which is never ending you know!) and guide you to reach your inner strength.
This is the journey of health. This is YOUR journey. You WILL get there.
Play cool. Stay Positive. Be calm.
You are strong. Don't stop believing.