My daughter teaches me something new every day. Her courage inspires and fuels me. She's my brave girl and will try things on the playground I would never have attempted. One day she was trying to jump on these tires that are spaced far apart. She got to the last one with the largest distance to cover and hesitated. She'd been thinking about trying this jump all afternoon but was afraid she wouldn't make it. She said, "Mom film this!" As she started moving her feet gauging the distance, she leaped and slammed her face into the tire.
I stood there waiting for her reaction. She jumped up looked around at the people watching and said, "I’m ok." But the adrenaline wore off and I could see the pain on her face. She ran to me hurt and embarrassed.
I had a choice, I could say you’re ok, it wasn't that bad. I could try to make her stop crying and take her mind off of it by going down the slide or offering her a snack or ice cream. I could feel the judgment in the stares of the other parents. I just let my five-year-old do something dangerous.
My other option was to stay right where we were and talk to her. Let her cry and feel all the feels in my arms. People were staring, and I let them stare. I said to her "It seems like that really hurt. You were trying hard to jump from one tire to another and you fell. Your face is red. Is your eye ok?" "Yes," she said.
When she calmed down I told her that I used to be scared to try anything I wasn't absolutely sure I could do. I would never have tried to jump from those tires because I was afraid of getting hurt. I didn't like trying new things because I was afraid I would fail. But since I never tried I never knew what I was capable of.
I also said to her, "You are brave. You wanted to jump from one tire to the next and you tried hard. Your legs might not be long enough to make that jump right now. But I want to encourage you to keep trying and not give up because you will do it one day."
Before I finished talking, she jumped up and ran to the tire to try one more time even though I could see the pain on her face. She didn’t make the jump. But I told her she was brave to try it again after falling and that I knew one day she would make it.
My heart hurts when my kids fall. I want to protect them, I want to keep them from the pain. But I can’t. I won’t always be there to catch them or help them navigate tricky situations.
I have to let them fall. And I have to let her cry and know that it’s ok to show emotion. It’s ok to be weak, it’s ok to fail, we are all there at one time or another. It’s apart of the life process and it’s important not to ignore it but embrace it.
"When we fall, we learn. When we fail, we grow. When we finally succeed, we flourish." - Carrie Usmar