A friend of mine rented this gigantic water slide for her son’s kindergarten graduation. My 4 year old, Hadley, was fearless, climbing up to the top and sliding down without a moment’s hesitation. She came barreling down the slide, smacking her cheek as she hit the bottom. (See that white diamond on the left side? That’s how much water is required for the slide to work properly. Good thing to notice before your child is crying hysterically while a huge bruise appears on her face because she hit the ground too hard. Mother of the year right here.) Not surprisingly, she was pretty much done with the slide at that point.
It was splash day at my daughter’s summer camp one week later. The school had a few blow up baby pools and a smaller blow up water slide. I made sure to point out to Hadley that the slide had the proper amount of water so that she wouldn’t get hurt this time. Does it come as a shock to anyone that Hadley wanted nothing to do with the slide?
One bad experience is all it takes to ruin something fun. I know that more than likely, Hadley will eventually be willing to try a slide again. But, she will first have to overcome her fear of getting hurt. We will have to work to replace a bad memory of the slide with a good one, and that will take time and trust.
We’ve all heard the expression about getting right back on a horse if you fall off. Sounds good in theory, right? You fall off, you get right back on so that the fear doesn’t build up inside you. Sometimes, though, falling hurts and you might need some hugs and kisses and some TLC. You might need a little time to nurse your bruises. But, guys, we’ve all got to try the water slide again eventually. We all have those things that excited us, that thrilled us, those things that we dared to try. Then, something happened. Maybe we weren’t perfect the first few times. Perhaps someone said something critical that discouraged us. Maybe the overpowering voice of self-doubt crept in and convinced us that we weren’t good enough. Perhaps even some of us are still looking at those steep steps afraid to climb.
We convince our children to keep trying, to never give up. We encourage them to try new, challenging things. We know that the best teachers lead by example. Let’s all be brave enough to practice what we preach. Life is too short to play it safe. Let’s not just slide… let’s yell “COWABUNGA!” on the way down.