First aid for the soul

I climbed up to the trestle deck and down to the concrete support where she stood waiting, full of anxiety. Looking down, the distance seemed far. I would much rather jump out of a plane than into that river.

Every once in a while, we all need a little first aid for the soul.  For each of us, that first aid is a formula unique.  This last week, mine experienced some repair.

The first significant day was a lazy day spent at the trestle through the Princeton Tunnel.  My son and his friends showed no fear jumping into the river from a significant drop.  They did it countless times.  My daughter did not see the drop in quite the same way.  To her the drop was a something she needed to do, but was fearful of.  She asked me to do it with her.  How could I say no?

I climbed up to the trestle deck and down to the concrete support where she stood waiting, full of anxiety.  Looking down, the distance seemed far.  I would much rather jump out of a plane than into that river.  To me, the fear is from my childhood.  I almost drowned once.  Pulled from a dam in Alberta at age 10 unconscious from a swim I was to small to do, but had to because my older brothers had.  “She’s dead,” yelled my brother’s friend who pulled me out.  I saw things before I passed out that I can’t explain.

Luckily, the teenage neighbour boys knew to breathe life into me.  I was like a rag doll for days after, that’s how close I was to death.  Standing at the river, a place I love to swim and have swam in since I was 12 and moved to Princeton, I felt afraid, but waiting for the count of three I jumped for my daughter and for me.  I did not want her to know my fear got the better of me or show her that fear cannot be overcome.  She did not jump with me, but held back until she was ready and then she too took that leap of faith.

My daughter turned 13 on Friday.  Shelby danced at Manning Park and at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival with some of the Highland Dancers.  She showed poise and grace.  I thought about my little girl who was slipping away to become a young lady.

My son made a breakthrough too.  As a family, we spent time painting bedrooms and moving Matt downstairs to a room of his taste.  He loved his room, but was not sure of sleeping there on his own.  Shelby and I looked at decorating magazines in his room while he settled into sleep.

Every day is about growing and learning and overcoming fears – big and small.  I want my kids to see that and see that we all have little bumps, bruises and barriers to navigate.  It is my hope that their confidence will lead them on a path where fears do not stop them.  Whether their pace is fast or slow, what matters is that they move ahead sometimes with trepidation and sometimes with great bounds led by their own courage.  Courage is necessary for all ages.  Sometimes the parent gets reminded of that on a hot summer day.