We went to the “fancy pool” with my nieces and cousins the other day. This particular pool is special because it has fun water features, two curly slides, and – most importantly – a diving board. The kids explored the pool, went down the slides, and then the whole crew made a beeline for the diving board.
As I spent the day with my 4-year-old twins, Mia and Miles, I couldn’t help but notice how my kids’ approaches to the diving board mirrored their general approaches towards life. Miles was super excited about the new experience. Waiting in line was hard for him and his little legs bounced up and down in anticipation. Mia was wary, but determined to give it a shot. She watched each person ahead of her as they climbed the short ladder and plunged into the water.
Miles jockeyed for position in the group, wanting to go first. When it was finally his turn he walked confidently to the end of the platform and jumped with all the style he could muster. He emerged from the water with a huge smile plastered on his face and immediately got back in line to jump again.
Mia climbed the ladder and approached the diving platform with cautious optimism. She walked quickly towards the end of the board, just until there wasn’t a handle to grip. Then she froze. She wavered, inching back and forth between the two ends of the board. She wanted to jump so badly, but just couldn’t make her self walk to the end of the platform, where the board was unsteady and she had nothing (and no one) to hold on to.
After a few minutes, the other children in the line grew restless and I lifted her down. She watched for a while and decided to get back in line to try again. And the same thing happened. She tried again and again, as her cousins rallied around her. They helped her count her steps and sing the alphabet song. They encouraged her each and every time she took her place on that board.
In the end, she never did jump that day. I could tell she was feeling a bit disappointed in herself and did my best to pump her up. I was proud of her for trying, for stepping out of her comfort zone. I am confident that next summer she will be ready, but she has to get there in her own time.
I also thought about all the time we were blessed to spend with family this summer – with cousins near and far – and how it has helped my kids to grow and mature. Over the past few weeks, my three nieces and my husband’s niece and nephew all came to town to visit. Mia and Miles were in heaven having their cousins here. Though I like to think I don’t ever take my extraordinary family ties for granted, seeing them with their cousins filled me with gratitude. There is nothing like the security of knowing that there is a group of people that will always be in your corner, no matter what. In the toughest of times, Mia and Miles will always know where to find their people.
So while they swim and build sandcastles, eat popsicles and perfect their cannonballs, what my kids are learning is that even beyond the walls of our home, they are safe and loved. That it is OK to take a risk when they are ready – to jump off the high dive or not jump at all – because they are surrounded by an amazing family that will encourage them when they are scared and help them recover from the flops.
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Tags: family time