Fear is a real emotion. And as brave as my children are...when they show fear, it is as real as the day is long.
I've done it before. If one of them complains I have said, "oh! It doesn't hurt that bad!" Or. "It will only hurt for just a minute...you'll be fine."
Sure, most of that is encouragement, letting them know that all will be well.
But really I think I was undermining their intelligence.
Because HOT DANG! It really does hurt.
I don't think pretending the fear does not exist is the way to go. The victory isn't ignoring the fear, the victory is in acknowledging it, and then overcoming it.
Yesterday L had his 3rd swimming lesson. He has been afraid of the water since...I don't know, forever?
He doesn't trust that it is safe, and he isn't convinced he can swim.
All of these issues are in his head of course. He has the ABILITY to swim. He has the tools. He physically CAN. But his head tells him something different. The fear speaks louder than the logic.
I've spent countless hours trying to build up his courage. Telling him he is more amazing than he gives himself credit for...and yesterday I had him.
On the way to the lesson I gave one of my best pep talks yet, and he was like, "I can do this! I WILL do a back float today!" Man, we were both psyched!
And then we got there and the teacher had him begin his lesson in a different part of the pool. The deeper part where there is no step. And there it was, written all over his face...
She had him sit on the side of the pool. She wanted him to take her hands and jump in. He could stand in that water, but he hadn't been over there before to prove that to himself. Part of my pep talk was to trust the teacher that she would never do anything unsafe. So after a lot of convincing....he did it.
He jumped in. And he was fine.
But the look on his face after he landed, I'll never...NEVER...forget it.
(I had to stop typing here and cry for a minute. Man. Baby alert!)
30 minutes later he did that back float...by himself...for seven seconds.
I KNOW it took every ounce of courage he had to do that back float. He did it because he knew he would get a ribbon if he did. And he is SO proud!
But it is absolutely clear to me that I could never match the courage that this boy has. Back float AND first tummy site in one week.
That pic I posted last week isn't a complete picture of what really happened with his tummy site. That pic was taken when we said we were going to pretend to do one. SO he smiled.
But then when we asked if we could put the site there for reals, he refused. And we weren't going to do one unless he was on board, so we were just about to put it in his butt/hip, when my husband looked at him and said, maybe we should do it here, and moved it back to his tummy. And after going back and forth, tummy...hip...tummy...hip...saying, "Here? Here? Here? Here?" L said , "Ok." very tentatively when we got to the tummy and my husband didn't flinch, he did it. and L screamed.
For like 10 minutes.
(The real picture of courage.)
And he made my husband PROMISE that he would never do a tummy site again, unless he asked him to.
And he promised.
But three days later this little boy who had such a traumatic experience with his last site change looked at my husband and said, "Do it in the tummy dad. Tummy sites rock."
And he closed his eyes, and winced a little and the site was in.
And he smiled.
What kind of courage did that take?
I can't even comprehend.
We can learn something from our children. Sometimes no matter how much the fear consumes us, we just need to jump in.
Sometimes, we need to close our eyes, wince a little and say, "Ok."
It is scary. The fear consumes us...but as we let go and give our children the freedom they deserve, and in most cases...earned, we will find that we CAN do it.
And every time after it will get a little easier.
Will the fear go away?
I don't think we are human if the fear completely goes away.
Our family played Apples to Apples the other day. At the end of the game, everyone reads the cards that they "won" and it is a little joke to say that those cards describe the player.
These were my cards:
I don't know about loveable or gorgeous...but I thought is was really appropriate to have courageous and fearful in the same breath.
Because I am both.
My boys are both.
And that is ok.