One of my kiddos is obsessed with monkey bars right now. He has to try out the monkey bars at every park, no matter the height or complexity.
This triggers my panic and fear index – reflex – whatever it is; it freaks me the hell out!
I am a worrier. It is a trait that has plagued me forever – seriously I have worried about everything my whole life. I have worried about what I wear, who likes me, if I stink, about my skills as a human, you name it I have worried about it.
Now, being a parent you know that when you have kids you worry about everything times a gazillion. You put them to sleep and check to see if they are still breathing a hundred times. You hope you are feeding them enough of the best, healthiest foods. Will goldfish at every meal damage their brains? That is a rhetorical question by the way. You drop them off at school and you worry…
Will they have friends?
Will they be treated with respect?
Can they handle peer pressure?
Will they eat their lunch?
Will they get the help they need?
What if they get lost?
Will they be a good friend?
Will they choose kindness when it comes to others?
Did I read to them enough?
Maybe we should have listened to more classical music?
Maybe I should have fed them more Omega 3s?
And on and on and on…
So where were we? Oh yeah, I know monkey bars.
Monkey bars seem like no big deal, but they are up high and I worry. Kids are letting go one hand at a time and dangling! Dangling above the ground at arm breaking height mind you.
So after several monkey bar attempts and a park that has 3 sets of monkey bars – seriously why so many different kinds of death-defying obstacles at a park? Who created this jungle gym of terror? Those big chips of wood underneath- who the hell thought that was good landing material?
But I digress. Any how, I got tired of feeling my own panic and trying to remain calm on the outside. Isn’t that the life of a parent or a human at all – calm on the outside, melty panic on the inside. Which then makes me think of chocolate and then makes me wish for M&M’s. Then I thank God there isn’t chocolate nearby because I am a stress eater and I would eat all of the chocolate at this death park.
Again I digress. But that is when I had an AH HA moment! (Yes, thank you Oprah for giving me the words for the moment when a life changing idea hits my brain.) This scenario I am in isn’t about being careful or worry or panic; he is going to fall. We are all going to fall. So instead of worrying about the fall; I need to plan ahead, I need to teach him how to fall.
So I proceeded to walk him through what to do when he felt like he needed to let go or when his hands got slippery.
“It’s okay to fall,” I say.
“Just let go. It isn’t that far to the ground,” I continue.
“Just fall like this,” I show a soft release and hop to the ground landing on my feet.
“Just do your best to land on your feet,” I finish.
Oh my gosh you guys!!! You guys!!! Did you hear that?! It is okay to fall. We don’t have to be afraid to fall.
While this logic applied to his monkey bar stunts, and worked extremely well I may add. He kept monkey bar-ring on without incident. This logic also applied to life. He might stumble in life, but it is okay. We can stumble, no big deal!
Like a roller coaster – life is full of these wild twists and turns. (I know I went from monkey bars to roller coaster, but bear with me. Both analogies fit what I am talking about here.) We may see them coming, but until we go through it we don’t know what it will be like. But if we buckle in and know the twists are there then maybe we will just roll through better. Maybe we won’t be so panic-stricken or uptight. I mean who goes through a roller coaster with every hair in place, and all their grace in tact?
When we embrace the fall and let it come then the ride might be a bit more enjoyable. We can be less afraid and worried all the time.
We are going to be okay.
So maybe falling is part of it; falling, getting back up, moving forward, balance, step, step, stumble, step. Maybe instead of all the worry and fighting against the current maybe we just accept the awkward, stumbling and recognize the beauty in that – maybe when we do that we will reduce the amount of pressure in our lives and feel free to explore and try new things. Maybe we will feel more free and able to connect. Maybe we feel free to love ourselves and show ourselves to the world because a fall is just a fall after all.
I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that teaching him how to fall made us both feel a whole lot better.
Your breakable, flawed, stumbling friend,