Every time we've gone to a particular park this summer, my 6 year old (Vienna) has looked with longing and hopefulness at some of the equipment. It's been elusive for a long time, and she hasn't been able to master them.
I'm talking of the high, and ever-challenging monkey bars.
One of the first times we went to this park this year she ran up to them and wanted more than anything
When I would let go, however, she just couldn't do it. She couldn't swing from one bar to the next. She could hang from the first one, then would have to let go.
She talked about her hands hurting. I suggested rubbing some sand on them so they were a little more easily moved when gripping, and maybe she wouldn't get the blister-ish soreness. It did help, but she still just didn't have the strength to get from one bar to the next.
So, we took a little break for awhile. We went to many different parks, she played, had fun, and didn't worry about those monkey bars.
Two days ago we returned to that park.
She played on other equipment for awhile, then when one of the other girls that was playing there hopped on those bars Vienna was drawn to them....like a moth to a flame. She (being the social butterfly she is - one of her favorite things about going someplace new is that she gets to make new friends) asked the girl if she could teach her how to make it all the way across. Unfortunately, the girl had to leave at that point.
Before the girl left, however, Vienna watched her very intently and took mental notes. I could see her sweet little mind working and processing what she was watching.
Right after the girl was done, Vienna had her chance. She hopped up there, hung down from the first bar, and (joy of all joys!) she was able to swing herself to the second bar! And then the third! Oh, the look on her face....it's etched in my memory and I wish I had caught it on my phone so I could share with you all. It was such an amazing look of triumph and achievement. I cheered for her and encouraged her to go even further. At that point she lost her grip, though, and fell.
It didn't matter.
She had figured out how to swing from bar to bar! What an achievement! She was SO excited. She got right back up and tried again. We went back again yesterday so she could keep trying.
She hasn't gotten past that 3rd bar, but I'm confident that she will by the end of the summer.
As I was watching her last evening as she was working so hard, trying and trying, and getting so close to getting further, I couldn't help but think about this and future challenges that she will face and my role in them.
It's difficult for me to not want to help her. To hold on to her so she can make it across - it's what she wants SO badly. I want to help her. I want to protect her from falling and possibly getting hurt.
The thing is, it's something she needs to do herself. I can cheer, encourage, and coach her, but I canNOT do it for her. It wouldn't have the same meaning if she made it across with me holding her as it will when she can do it herself. So I'm not going to help her. Physically, anyway.
My role as her mama is to be an encourager, not an enabler. A cheerer, a support and empower-er, not a dictator who will take over and just do it for her.
And this doesn't just apply to the monkey bars. There will be many, many, many challenges that she faces in her life. As much as I would love to take over for her and control her actions, decisions, and protect her from any hurt, that's not reality. She HAS to learn how to over come challenges on her own, in her own way. Even if it's differently than I would deal with them. She's her own person, and really pretty amazing and persevering already.
I just pray that as she learns to overcome challenges that I can learn and be trained to LET her overcome her own challenges. I'm just here to love her and help her along the way - not do it for her.
Oh, the things you can learn on the playground ;)