My kids claim (read: WHINE) they never get to do anything fun. This isn’t true, yet they sure know how to make me feel guilty. Kids are so great at manipulation, aren’t they? I decided if I waited until they earned it, we’d never leave the house, so yesterday I took them to the local swimming pool. It’s not the public swimming pool from my youth where the most exciting feature was the high dive and the bomb pops at a concession stand. No, this is a fancy “aquatic center” with a lazy river; several water slides, a splash park, diving board, lap pool, regular pool, baby pool and a full-menu snack bar.
I decided I couldn’t take a full day at the pool because my sister is coming soon and I have cleaning and laundry and ALL THE THINGS to get done before Tuesday! Plus I thought days before my sister arrives would be a great time to convert the dining room into an official Extra Grace Required home office. I’m nutso like that. (Stay tuned soon for the EGR office reveal).
So anyway, we arrived at the pool just a couple hours before it closed for the day. Two hours is still fun, right? The kids were so excited. Seeing their joy and anticipation made me glad I decided to take them even though they didn’t do their jobs and fought all day long.
They headed straight off to the water slides. I chose a lounge chair facing the slides so I could be the referee and tell them who won the dueling water slide races. They were having so much fun! Together! Praise Be! It’s a summer miracle!
Next, they wanted to try the lazy river. Now we’re talking! I went with them and after one trip around decided I would try the 2-person inner tube and try to lie on it like a bed. Now, let me tell you something. This is something I would have NEVER done even two years ago. But now, well into my 40’s and having lost the love of my life, I don’t give a flying flip about what anyone thinks about my appearance anymore. I have a lot of weight I should lose, I probably needed to shave my legs too – but whatever – I’m going to relax and enjoy!
It only took me about 5 minutes to maneuver myself onto the inner tube just right and it involved one visit from the lifeguard to see if I was alright (HA!) but then I was ready to go. It was heaven! The sky was so beautiful, perfectly blue with sunshine and puffy white clouds and I just floated without a care in the world. I stared at the clouds and watched them move. My thoughts turned to creation, God and heaven. And then, as I pondered heaven and where that is exactly and if I could just reach past those clouds, past our world into Mark’s….ugh…tears. He’s with me; he’s so near…and yet not reachable while I’m here. And I hate that. That promptly ended my lazy river time.
I went back to my lounge chair and waited for the kids. Gman had been watching kids jump off the diving board and thought he would give it a try. I walked over with him because even though there was a lifeguard right there, I AM HIS LIFEGUARD, thank you very much. I appreciate the work these young adults do, but that’s my baby boy and I’ll be making sure he’s safe. (Poor Gman…helicopter Mom).
He waited in line and then slowly climbed the ladder. He slowly walked to the end of the board, freaked out and thought about turning back. The older boys in line started encouraging him (don’t you love it when goodness and love shows up?!). I started chanting his name. And then he did it! He jumped in, came up for air with a giant smile on his face and swam to the edge of the pool. BRAVERY!! I was so proud of him!
Lolo, not to be outdone, decided she was going to be brave too. She had been eyeing the giant tube slide that drops off about 8 feet in the air for a free fall into the water. I don’t know if I’ve shared this about Lolo before, but she struggles with anxiety BIG TIME. It can be paralyzing for her. She’s always been this way, but it’s extra bad since her Dad died. I could see her anxiety escalating before she even walked towards the drop off slide. I could see it in her breathing, her posture and her body language.
I told her she didn’t have to do it. I encouraged her that I knew she could, but it was totally up to her. She walked to the slide, back hunched over, hands to her mouth as the fear grew inside her. She stopped for a few minutes to study the rules (this is totally a Lolo thing to do). She then slowly climbed the stairs, looking nervously back at me a couple times. I gave her a two-thumbs up from the pool. She got to the top, talked with the lifeguard, sat down for her turn and….
We waited. The kids behind her in line waited. For over a minute we all waited. And then she stood back up and walked back down the stairs. Anxiety and fear won.
We went back to playing in the pool but she kept looking over at that slide. I told her I knew she could do it. We watched younger kids fly down with joy and ease. She wanted to…she just couldn’t. Fear is a monster.
After a few more minutes she decided she could do it this time. So back she went. Up the stairs, sit down at top of slide, wait a minute or more, pop back up with fear. The lifeguards change posts every 15 minutes or so. Lolo kept up this routine of mustering up courage and then chickening out for FOUR LIFEGUARD ROTATIONS!
I decided to ignore her at this point. This wasn’t a battle my encouragement could solve. This was her battle. At some point, no matter how much you love your kid and understand their honest-to-God real life anxiety problems, it becomes frustrating. I want to be patient and encouraging but inside my head I want to march up there and push her down that slide. (Did I say that out loud?!) I wanted to do this, not because I’m mean, but because I KNEW she could do this! And I knew once she did she would have a moment of understanding to realize she is stronger than her fears! She can overcome! I don’t want anxiety to be a thief of her joy, which it usually is.
Finally, about 5 minutes before the pool closed, SHE DID IT!!!! She flew out of the tube and fell many thrilling feet into the pool below. She came up with the BIGGEST smile on her face! She did it! “I want to do it again!” she said. So off she went. She did it three more times before they announced the pool was closing.
I am so proud of my brave kids! They learned that when you crash through the door labeled fear, there’s JOY waiting on the other side. I think I learned a thing or two from my kids yesterday. I’m going to try to be more like them this week (with less whining and fighting though). I’m going to figure out what I’m afraid of and tackle it head on so I can see what joy is waiting for me.
What do you fear? What if joy is just waiting for you on the other side? I hope you’ll crash through that fear door this week too. There’s joy waiting for you, too! Just JUMP!
Want to see the big office reveal? Subscribe here and don’t miss it!
Like me on Facebook HERE