Being a kid is HARD. Your life is full of people telling you what to do, how to do it, and when it is supposed to be done. I’m pretty sure that would drive me crazy. Heck, it does drive me crazy, and I’m just the one doing the ordering.
With all of that ordering around, how do we give our kids the freedom that they need to discover their own passions? To explore who they are and what they want to do? I’m still in the process of figuring it all out, but I think that freedom is one of the keys. Freedom to explore, make mistakes, and succeed like crazy. Yes, we want to raise children who are passionate!
As we go about our family adventures, it’s really easy for us to get into the mindset of what doing what Andrew and I want to do. When our kids were really little, giving them options was pointless, and it’s easy to stay in that rut. We’re learning. We’re backing off and letting our kids do some of the planning. Choosing what they want to do, and where they want to go. It’s a learning process for all of us.
Luckily, most of the things that our kids want to do are right up our alley (one of the major benefits of starting your kids on adventures as infants). The tricky part comes when they want to do something that you just don’t want to do. It gets worse when it’s something that you’re scared to do.
Such is the case for me with rock climbing. Andrew is a really great climber. I pretended to like it until we got married, and once he was stuck with me I told him how much it scared me and that I didn’t really like it. (Anyone else do something like that…anyone?) Of course, now our kids are really starting to like it. A LOT. In fact, as I type, Andrew and Mason are out for a sunrise climb before work and school.
Could I just back out here and let it be a “man thing”? Yes, yes I could. But I can’t. You see, I don’t want to miss out on the things that they are passionate about. I want them to want to tell me story after story, and fact after random fact about all of the things that they love, simply because I love them. It’s a tricky balancing act as a parent. It’s like when Chloe and I have lots of tea parties and dance ballet all over the house. It’s not my first choice of things to do, but doing it with her and the smile on her face as we twirl around together makes it simply magical.
So what do I do about the climbing? The same climbing that terrifies me? I fake it. I pretend like I’m having the time of my life, and in a way I am because I’m doing it with my kids. I’m ever eager to belay or take pictures and then simply choose to climb on simple routes when it’s my turn. It makes me more comfortable and helps me to avoid the humiliation of getting stuck up on a rock and bawling like a baby in front of my kids. For now it works (though I’m sure like most things, it will constantly evolve).