Life Lessons From The Playscape.
When you have your first baby, you dream of her growing up to be a strong confident woman, of being smart and taking on the world. Perhaps she is a beautiful little girl with big brown eyes, and you want to protect her. You want to wrap her in the softest blankets, gently rock her to sleep and give her all the best care. You never want to see her cry or be hurt. You love that little precious thing and so you protect. And then one day you realize she won’t grow strong wrapped in the softest blankets. She won’t grow strong if you protect her from everything. She won’t be confident if you’re afraid.
So you go to the playground and you watch this teeny tiny precious ball of joy trying to climb those terrifying metal bars they call a ladder, up way too high, trying to get to the top of the playscape, and you stop breathing a little. Maybe you say, “No! You’re not ready for that!” or perhaps a simple, “Be careful!” But your beautiful brave little child now thinks, “Mom doesn’t believe in me and maybe I shouldn’t believe in me either.” Or maybe she just thinks, “Don’t take risks.”
This scene right here is one of my parenting struggles. I don’t want my kids to get hurt. I find myself warning them far more often than I find myself encouraging them to take the chance, to try it or encouraging them with a “you can do it!” And the crazy thing is, it’s the exact opposite of what will yield a brave, strong, confident child.
All that’s true, but what if you are the child. What if you’re the scared little girl and you tell yourself all the time, “don’t take risks,” “that’s not safe,” or “You’re going to fail.”
I’ve been that little girl for most of my life, so if that’s you, I feel you.
I didn’t try out for the team because I was afraid I wouldn’t be any good. I didn’t run for President of my class, because I was afraid I’d lose to that girl. I dated that guy because he was a sure thing. I didn’t follow my dreams, one after another, time after time, because the risks were too scary.
But, what I read about kids back when my first baby was just a little girl on the playground applies to us as adults too. There’s still time! What I read is that children develop confidence by 1) taking those risks, by daring to climb the scary metal ladder, and by 2) always having a safe place to run when they get hurt.
So, when my confidence is shot because I was never really confident to begin with, and the last 10 years of my life was anything but safe, I have to rebuild my confidence one scary metal ladder rung at a time. I have to dare to climb.
This last year and a half, I’ve been intentionally taking one small risk at a time, allowing my confidence to grow little by little. Fearing failure or pain, yes, but being my own safe place to fail. Sometimes I blow it. I fall. I make bad choices. Then I remind myself I am not my bad choice. I am not my failed attempt. In fact, just as I would congratulate my child for trying something new, for taking that chance even if she fails, I am practicing congratulating myself for taking the chance and trying something new.
I am determined to 1) take some calculated risks to build confidence and 2) being my own safe place when I get hurt.
I’m not ready to give up on myself. I’m not ready to succumb to a lack of confidence and stop living a life of new experiences and adventure – and adventure is risky – so I will take the lessons I learned on the playscape and climb my way to confidence and a full, even if a little risky, life.