The other day, when I was off work, I decided to pick Skyler up from school early to sneak in a few hours of quality time, just us. We started our Mama & Mooch adventure at Altitude, a nearby trampoline park. Of course, I forgot my phone in the car so I couldn’t snap any good pictures, but not having my phone allowed me to be fully present and invested in the now with my son. And we had a blast! (All of the photos in this post are from other visits to the same trampoline park.)
The thing that struck me the most was how BRAVE he was, how willing he was to try new things, even if they were scary and even if he decided not to go through with them. He knew his own limits but was very willing to push them, more so than I usually am!
We started over at the ‘baby pit’, a pit of foam cubes for toddlers and littles to jump into from appropriately high surfaces. The last time we were there, Skyler spent most of his visit jumping in, climbing out, and jumping back in again.
I let him dictate where we went and what we did, moving him out of the way of bigger kids or adults, and explaining that he was too short to go in certain areas. He would accept the height restrictions with a sigh, and move on to the next section.
He tried climbing up this mini mountain, for kids under 6, but didn’t understand what he needed to do with his socked feet, so gave up. But he tried! (And it was his idea to do so.)
He jumped into the BIG foam pit and even contemplated jumping from the high dive, but after climbing to the top chickened out (rightly so).
He braved the balance beam, precariously floating above another massive foam pit, and he made it! (I was very impressed and barely made it myself haha). We went into the dodgeball zone but I quickly convinced him that he was too little and that he would never be able to steal a ball from the other players, so we left.
The thing that impressed me the most was when he chose to try the trapeze. The trapeze doesn’t have height requirements but is clearly meant for bigger and older kids. I thought for sure that he would decided against this.
We got in the short line of older kids (aged 5-8 from my brief interactions with them). He waited so patiently, even as kids cut in line, and finally it was his turn. But that’s when I realized just how high up we were above the foam pit. (Probably only a few feet, but it felt really high from up there.
“You sure you want to do this?”
“Uh huh.” He nodded.
The trapeze had swung too far away and none of us could reach it, so another kid jumped off the platform to hit it back into a pendulum, and I caught it. But then realized that I needed a third hand to both hold the trapeze in place and hold Skyler up to grab it, so I asked another kid in line to hold the trapeze. Then I lifted Skyler up, and asked one more time if he was sure. He said he was.
“Okay, on three. One… two… three…” I let go of him and he went swinging and let me tell you from my perspective IT WAS GD TERRIFYING. There was my little baby hanging by his tiny little baby fingers what felt like hundreds of feet up in the air.
And he didn’t let go.
“Skyler, you have to drop into the pit.”
I couldn’t hear him. Had he begun to cry or yell?! He seemed upset. He was too far away from me to reach him to pull him back to safety, and honestly, I was worried about grabbing him and making him fall too close to the platform. I’d rather he just fall out into the foam pit.
“You have to let go, buddy! Let go of the swing!”
So he did.
He plummeted into the depths of the foam cubes and I jumped down off the platform to meet him down by the side. Was he crying? Was he screaming? Was he scared? Was he upset? I was so worried about my baby boy. That was FAR too scary for him!
But then I saw his face, as he was scrambling to get out of the pit: he was SMILING.
When he climbed out, I gave him a big hug and a high five. “You just did the big kid swing! That was amazing! Did you have fun!?”
His face was bright with pride. “I did it! I did the swing! I fell in the squares!”
We high-fived and then he was off to the next adventure, with me trailing behind him in awe.
He was WAY too little to do that, but instead of letting his size stop him from trying something that looked like fun, he went for it. He proved to himself (and to his Mama) that he could do it, that he wasn’t too little, and that even though it was kinda scary (for both of us!) that it was also fun.
I was not like that as a kid. I weighed every angle of a situation, and usually erred on the cautious side. I never wanted to get in trouble or get hurt or get made fun of, and my Inner Critic has always been incredibly persuasive, keeping me from pushing past my internal limits.
I really hope that Skyler is able to develop a healthy relationship with his inner parts and not allow them to talk him out of trying things. I really hope that this moment and others like it will solidify his self-confidence, empowering him to try things even when they’re daunting. (And I hope that my own inner voices shut up enough to let me let him have the autonomy for self-discovery.)
We had the best time, and tried everything that he was allowed to be part of. We even went in the Wipeout, where a big padded arm spins in a circle and you can either duck under it or jump over it. He was convinced he wanted to try it, so we waited our turn, got in the big netted area, and as soon as that sucker turned on…. Skyler was ready to leave. So we did.
But again, I’m so impressed: He saw something cool, didn’t doubt that he could try it, got inside to try it, and then realized that it was actually beyond his limits. So he left. Learn your limits, push them, but respect them. That’s a lesson I think we can all benefit from.
I’m just so impressed by him. Inspired, even. Next time I find myself thinking, “Damn, that looks like fun, but I can’t….” I’m going to have a little talking to with myself. Because if my almost-3-year-old can push himself to try something new, so can I! (And gosh darn it, I’m determined to be able to do the ninja course at some point!)
Have you had a similar experience with your kids? How have your own children inspired or impressed you? How do you recognize and respect your own limits while still pushing yourself to try new things?