Friday, April 25, 2014
I Need for You To...Take the Next Step
Isaac's eight year old sister had summoned up all of her courage and bravely climbed the ladder. It was a tall ladder and absolutely vertical but she had determined that she must prove her mantle and join her siblings in the loft. They were having so much fun. They were laughing and playing and celebrating their achievement. They had encouraged her up and had promised to take her picture once she made it. When she came up, she was greeted with congratulations and hugs! Wow! She had crossed a significant milestone and her sweet siblings were first in line to help her celebrate! She relished just a moment and then realized...
She would have to come down. Going up was bad enough. It had taken supernatural courage to face the daunting ladder and these new heights and sights head on. Her childish mind began to process the unwelcome thoughts that she would have to again face that ladder and this time back into gravity and trust that she would be alright. That was too much for this brave adventurer. Tears welled up and began to tirade over her cheeks.
Her siblings tried to calm her but one mama glance revealed this was going to be an effort. I relegated her well meaning fan club to the porch and came up. I tried to hug her but she cried more fiercely until I thought she was going to be physically sick. "You...want ...me...to...come...down..."she finally managed to get out. There were two twin beds on the otherwise bare loft. "I want to hug you," was my response though she and I both knew that in a few moments I would indeed need her to face her fear and conquer the the ladder. She let me away with my partial truth and let me hold her.
She calmed and then began to cry again. "You want me to come down." This child demanded truth. She knew she must somehow make it back to the ground floor but felt powerless and paralyzed. "Well, I guess you could stay up here" I thought out loud, "it is pretty. But what would happen if you needed to use the bathroom?" I tried to sound very reasonable and practical. No answer. "That would be a problem," I continued. Her tears again grabbed and shook her in my arms. "No sweetie. I need for you to stop crying so we can talk. What do you think we should do?"
"I'm scared." Tears had squeezed truth out. She was scared. "It's ok to be scared," I tried to comfort. "No...it's...not." Teary red eyes accused me of a fundamental lie. More truth. This child was afraid to move but more than that she was ashamed and afraid of her fear and her perceived failure. I hugged her and looked her straight in her terrified little face. "Sweetie, everybody gets scared. That's ok. I get scared too. Being scared isn't a bad thing." She didn't argue. She really couldn't. She was enveloped in hiccuping sobs but they were gentler now. She was trying to understand this new concept.
"It's fine to be scared. We just have to keep moving even though we're scared." Terror filled her face. "I can't!" I looked at my sweet little one firmly. "I need for you to not say that you can't. I'm not asking you to go down. We just have to move a little." What seemed like three hours was probably closer to a half hour. Bit by bit we moved from the far bed to the other bed, from there to the foot of the that bed, from there to the floor beside the foot of the bed and scoot by scoot to the loft entrance facing the ladder. We had to establish a couple more rules. Now that she was this close to her giant, terror grabbed her feet and she stomped. "I love you but you may not kick and you may not hit," I reminded her. "I can't help it!" she screamed. "Yes, you can. We're not saying the word 'can't', remember?"
She glared at me but it wasn't personal. She was terrified. I kept speaking to my sweet one, "It's ok to be scared, but we have to take a step. I've got you. I love you. Daddy is on the ladder to be with you. I'm here too. We won't let anything happen to you. I promise. We love you." She looked from me to my husband. Our eyes added credence to what our words had testified. She was so very scared and my heart wept for her. I hated that she had to fight this battle but I was humbled by the opportunity to escort her through her fear.
She made it down the ladder. We celebrated though she at first did not want to. When she got down, she was gripped with shame for her fear and her behavior. I pray she will always remember what we told her. "Everybody gets afraid. Fear is nothing to be ashamed of. Ever. You just have to move and keep going even when you think you can't."
Parenting puts us in such weird places. You must speak truth to your children and assure them of certainties that you struggle most with yourself. I get afraid. I had told my eight year old daughter that fact. She later asked me what I was afraid of. I took a deep breath and tried to honestly translate my deepest fears into language she could understand. "I'm afraid of what I can't see and what I can't control." Confusion clouded her face. "Why?" My fear seemed as irrational to her as her fear of the ladder may have seemed to anyone else. I half smiled and realized that the two of us, my daughter and I, were afraid of the same things. We both like to see what we are getting into and to be able to control the situation in a way in which we can keep ourselves safe. That was too much to explain after the trauma of the day. "That's what I'm afraid of sweetie. But even though I'm afraid, I have to keep moving." My own words smacked me with truth. Even though I'm afraid, I have to take the next step and keep moving. It's ok to be afraid but we may not allow ourselves the luxury of stopping. We may not be paralyzed. Too many count on us. We cannot do anything while we are held captive by our loft ladder. We must move. We must take the next step no matter how small or we will cease to matter. We are individually crafted to make a difference and to add our contribution of beauty and love to the world. We matter...so we must move. I Need For You To....Take Your Next Step.
I love you dear friends and wish you strength and courage as you take on your loft ladder.