Tuesday, April 13, 2010

That One Time with the Water Skiing

Having Ava has really brought home the point that your children make you come face to face with your own issues that you have within yourself.  This isn't an earth shattering revelation, but something I think every parent has to face, and stumble around with hoping to get it right and not screw up their kid. For us, with Ava, our problem is getting her to overcome her own inner naysayer and being brave enough to try new things.

At first, I was shocked that Ava had this characteristic of absolutely refusing to go beyond her comfort zone where other kids happily push forward, but after a little more introspection I realized that the apple may not fall far from the tree.  Last summer, Ava kicked and screamed and panic attacked (so she let on) against going beyond her knees in the water. No amount of cajoling or comforting, or loving supportive hugs would get her to even think of trying to swim.  In a state where there is water less than a mile from anywhere, I kind of fretted over having a kid who refused to swim and I worried that she would stay that way forever.  At the last possible moment, she decided to give it a shot in my mother's pool on a late summer day and we haven't been able to get our fish out of the water since.  Ava is almost seven and this is "The Summer of the Training Wheels."  That's in quotes because already, Rick and I can see that that is this year's monumental break through.  Just last night after 5 successful minutes of trying to balance on two wheels, Ava went from perfectly happy and willing to an all-out freak out in less than a minute. It was so sudden that I had no idea that it was even happening until Ava was hyperventilating on the sidewalk.

And there I was trying to figure out just where things went awry.

Later in the evening, while doing the dishes, my mind wandered trying to figure out just how two adventuresome, speed-freak parents ended up with such a tentative child.  And then I remembered.  When I was about 10, my dad and his good friend spent many summer days and nights water-skiing. I loved swimming and I loved zipping around on the boat watching them, so it seemed like a natural progression to get me to try and water-ski. My dad patiently held me up in the right position in the water and he talked me through every step. He told me what feelings to expect and what to do if things weren't going right.  I was petrified.

I'm not sure how long it took me to get up on those 2 skis, but I do know that I cried and screamed, and yelled, "I CAN'T DO IT!!!!" for a better part of an afternoon.  But my dad patiently persisted and eventually I made it up and realized how fun it was to glide across the water.  That was one of my AHA! moments because after that day, even though new things may have scared that crap out of me I learned to make the leap anyway.  It's probably why I ended up having so many daring hobbies, and most definitely why I was a ski instructor a lifetime ago.

Making that realization helped me to relax a little about Ava and her stubborn refusal to try new things.  I still have no idea how to get her to that place where she can trust to make her own leaps, but I know that if I could change so can she.  The funny thing about this whole "Summer of the Training Wheels" thing, is that Ava already balances perfectly on her bike. She just needs to believe in herself as much as Rick and I already do.

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