This weekend I got to spend a lot of time with my 5 year old daughter, we were on a road trip and her mom, my wife, was working. We had a little time to kill so we do what we always do on the weekends, swim. Usually we go to the neighbourhood swimming pool, nice place, main pool, hot tub, baby pool and a figure 8 river. nice enough. But where we were had all that and a water slide and a wave pool. Anyway we found a 3 foot by 3 foot floaty thingy and decided to go and ride the waves. Well I thought my daughter would just want to float on the waves and giggle, no, not the case. She wanted me to shake and move the floaty so she would fall off, like a daddy version of a mechanical bull. No problem, I would shake the floaty and she would fall into the waves and I would grab her and put her back on top. She would always be a little disappointed when I grabbed her to put her back on. I thought this was cause she didn’t like falling off. Again, not the case. As I watched her I realized she wasn’t looking for my hand, she wasn’t looking to be helped, I was ruining her fun by being over protective, so as time went on I let her do her thing. She would fall off, into the rough waves, right herself, even stay under the water, or under the floaty for longer than I was comfortable, but she would always come up smiling, sometimes with a panicked look but she would do it herself. For me this was hard, watching her struggle, wanting to help but realizing it was better for me to let her learn than to hold her hand. Sometimes being tough isn’t taking care of everything, sometimes it’s not doing anything. This is probably parenting 101 for most of you but for me it was an epiphany.
We are so comfortable with our pre-set value systems and judgements, our couches and our pvr schedules. Life isn’t meant to be endured, it’s meant to be lived. Maybe it’s time for me to learn from my daughter and fall into the water, right myself and come to the surface with a smile on my face.