March 27, 2006

The Right Stuff

On our walk/tricycle ride today, we passed our neighborhood school. Sass saw the playgroud there and raised her eyebrows, so soon we were headed in that direction. This playgroud is known to us as "the big park," because compared to our every-day park, it's...well...big. Designed for 5-12 year olds, Sass's two-year old frame of last season needed help navigating the stairs and ladders, and her daddy often had to go down the slides with her. M. didn't like that park last year, it was too big. But that didn't stop her from scrambling all over it, with him following nervously behind.

As she climbed the first platform today she cried, "Mama! I'm going to fall!" It was all new to her again, and she took her time getting used to the height. First she tried the "baby slide" then graduated to a bigger slide. When a four-year-old urged her up to the tallest slide --a curvy monstrosity -- she stated curiously, "No. I used to be small, but now I'm brave." I could see her winter growth had given her the height and agility she needed to finally tackle this playground without her dad or I hovering over her.

After about 15 minutes, the girl asked her again. Sass agreed, and climbed to the top, calling "Mama!" in a worrisome tone every few seconds. I had Party Girl in the wagon, so couldn't go up with her. I assured her I was watching and would catch her at the bottom. At the top, she panicked, so I left PG and her wagon with a grandmotherly nurse, and sprinted to the top. As soon as she saw me there she let go, and down she slid.

"You love me, Mama!" She shouted. "I'm big and brave!"

"True and true!" I told her and the nurse chuckled quietly.

We played a while more, and she finally walked up to the humdinger of all slides there. Tall, twisty, steep, and covered. She eyed it up and said confidently,

"I'm going up there."

It took her a while to figure out how to get to it, navigating stairs and chain bridges. Finally, she got to the top.

"Are you at the bottom, Mama?" she called.

"Yes, honey."

"I can't see you!"

"I'm hear. I'll catch you."

"It's tall and.." whimpering "It's so big!"

"You don't have to do this slide Sass, if you don't want to."

"No, Mama. I do." Her solemn little voice came to me through the tunnel. "I do need to do this slide."

So what did I learn from my kid today? I learned that life is about not letting fear stand in the way of happiness. It's about taking yourself above your comfort zone, about challenging yourself to live the best life you can live. You can look a challenge in the face, then turn and walk away from it, as I suggested she do (shame on me). Or you can grab life by the handrails and fling yourself boldly at it -- as she did -- understanding that the risk is well worth the adventure that lies ahead.

As she came shooting out the bottom, she gave me a big hug, then she walked off to do it again saying to herself, "I am braver and braver. I was small and now I'm a brave, brave girl." She didn't ask me for any more help after that. She didn't need to -- she had proved to herself that she was strong and mighty.

She inspired me today. I'm going to look for that big slide each day, the one that scares yet thrills me the most. I'm going to find my way to the top, and I'm going down it -- not on my belly, mind you, because that way apparently is for "babies." I'm going to sit up straight and tall and let the wind blow my hair and feel my heart drop into my belly and when I come shooting out the bottom I'll say to myself, "I was small and now I'm a brave, brave girl." And maybe I too can be strong and mighty like my tiny daughter.


Blogger Jenn (formerly gibby23roarof84) said...

Well, maybe on your belly. Because at the end of all of this, there is a HUGE water slide, and we are standing there, at the top, with our swimsuits on, and we haven't even worried more than 12 times about our butts, and we are laughing and we are tan, and we are grabbing hands and going belly-down to the end. I can almost hear us laughing now.

March 28, 2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

That made me choke up... because oh, the many times I have learned something from my girls.
Bethany, I did want to reply to your comment on my page... I swear to you, honest to Bob, I totally just assigned a random word to your link.

March 28, 2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger Her Grace said...


I can't imagine being in a swimsuit and NOT being worried about my butt! But maybe...


Thanks for the comment and the reply from you page. It's reassuring to know that I'm not an asshole :)!

March 28, 2006 2:29 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

What a great lesson. It's pretty applicable to what I'm living through right now, too. I owe Sass a great big hug.

March 28, 2006 7:22 PM  
Anonymous MOM said...

That Sassy girl is an old sould in a tiny little body. What a life lesson! Face your bees (calling them demons gives them too much power). Face what is troubling you with a head-on, I-am-me, get-out-of-my-way-I've-got-a-flyswatter-and-I'm-not-afraid-to-use-it attitude. If you don't get through the first time, get a bigger flyswatter. Sassy doesn't like change, she loves structure in her world, she wants the world to be a certain way so she can live comfortably in it. Yet, in her little heart, she realizes that that isn't how life is going to be. So...rather than back up, retreat and sit back quietly and watch a changing world go by, she climbs up, checks for backup (vis a vis Mom) and comes out laughing and stronger. She adapted to her changes with a quiet little strength. We should all take heed of this three year old soul.

March 30, 2006 8:04 AM  

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