Recently, we were at a festival with different food, games and rides for the kids and family to enjoy. There were hay rides and slides, ring tosses, hot dogs and chili. This is the type of things that the kids just eat up and parents enjoy because it’s quality time, safe and fun.
There also was a rock climbing wall there. It wasn’t small by any measure, it was probably 40 feet high. My daughter Olivia, who is eight, really wanted to take her first try ever at rock climbing. Before I knew it, we were at the rock climbing wall and she was standing in line. I started to investigate the set-up, taking note of the ropes, wall, helmets, supervision, etc. I paid attention to how close the safety attendants were paying attention. If my daughter were 20 feet in the air and slipped, could they and would they stop her? No room for errors, they had to be trustworthy.
I really, deep down, wasn’t too excited about her climbing the wall. I had a decision to make. Trust her to stretch the boundaries of her experiences in a relatively safe and controlled environment or step in and insist that she wait until she is older. The truth is she was among the youngest kids trying this and I probably could have gotten away with shutting her attempt down. I let her go, though, with some anxiety.
When it was her turn, she had her ropes and helmet and started her climb. She worked her way up the wall and found it to be harder than she had expected. She didn’t go to the top, but no kid her size/age did. What she accomplished was really impressive and she quite obviously felt great about it. I am so proud of her for eagerly wanted to challenge herself. It had to be at least a little scary for her and she stepped into it, anyway. She attempted to climb higher than she had ever been before.
I am a loving father. My love could have given way to my fear and I could have stolen this opportunity from her. Sometimes, fear or insecurity can be disguised as love for the sole protection of the one supposedly loving. Control or manipulation are not evidence of love. Trust and encouragement when the situation is ripe for growth are indicative that the love is True.