Saturday, April 12, 2014

Yellow Tube Dreams at Burger King And Other Frustrations

With my own eyes I saw tears fall from hers. Mommy instinct in full gear - I run to her, but with just enough pause to wonder what has happened. She's up there. I'm not supposed to be, but I'm on my way, again with pause. What has happened to make her cry? I don't go all the way up, but I'm up in there. Concerned.

Lyla, what's wrong? Just come down!
I don't want to come down.
Then keep going!
But, I'm scared.

Story of our lives. Fear.

My daughter has always been the careful type. There's even a pause before she speaks. She's very careful not to say the wrong things. When it comes to physical things, though, it can sometimes go beyond caution to apprehension.

So here we were toward the end of our Burger King playdate, and I'm reminded of a time when one of Lyla's friends had a birthday party at one of those places with all the inflatables. The slides were hecka high. She just ran around in the little comfortable bouncy houses until it was lunch time. All the other kids were readying to eat, when there was my Lyla Bug on the top of the slide, coming down. It wasn't until she tried all the slides that she was ready to eat.

I have become accustomed to this pattern. Play around like nothing's wrong, and then suddenly when it's time to go, there's this big burst of courageousness that springs up inside of her. This is what I predicted would happen this Burger King playdate, but it didn't. Well, maybe it did, but the manifestation of her inner dare devil didn't end in that big accomplishment of sliding down the slide.

She didn't really want to come to this Burger King. She wanted to go across town where there is an outside playground with non-intimidating equipment. For whatever reason, she doesn't like the inside playgrounds and has never made it to the top of those giant indoor playground slides.

My Own Shortcomings

So here we were in Burger King. One rung shy of the yellow tube that leads to the slide. Stuck. What am I to do as a mother?

In a flash, I am reminded of my own shortcomings as a homeschool mom. I'm sure most of you know by now that this year, we decided to send my little one to public school. I am still very much so a homeschool mom. Mainly because she's learned so little in public school, we homeschool when time permits. I know my strengths and weaknesses. Conveying academic information, cultivating curiosity, research, planning and organizing (not in life, but in my homeschool)- at those things, I am a beast. Encouraging outside time, physical activity, and gross motor skills? Not so much. I've never been the outdoorsy type, and when I saw Lyla was fearful as a young child, I didn't really know how to combat that.

The funny thing is that when Lyla was a baby she was extremely strong. Her grandmother as my witness, at thirty days old, I saw her struggle and struggle until she pulled herself up into the crawling position. She held on for a little while before she quickly fell over and started to cry. That scared the living day lights out of me, so I stopped giving her tummy time for a while.

My daughter came here as a baby ready for the world. Am I the one who has reduced that? How many times in trying to protect her, have I actually stunted her growth? So many times I have heard people who have seen me in action, compliment me on my mothering skills, but people need to know that we all have our strengths and weaknesses and that something as easy as taking your child outside and allowing them to conquer and test fear at an early age could be a slip-up for a mom with the highest intentions.

From Conflict to Compromise

Here we are at Burger King watching the three and four year olds go through without hesitation. My seven year old? Still stuck. She's crying, and I'm climbing, and I just stop and sit. Conversation ensues. I notice the conflict. She feels that she should, but still is fearful. I'm all coaxing her, getting her to come down. She comes down. More conversation. I realized that she needs some kind of accomplishment for the day, but I'm ret-to-go. She mentions that she's scared because someone said that the slide is really fast. I let her know that it's OK to be afraid, and that today she should just climb to the top and go through the yellow tube leading to the slide. She does. We decide that she can try the slide next time. Compromise in full effect, she gets ice cream. Weeeee... We're' all happy... until next time.