A confession: I’m terrified of heights. Seriously terrified.
On a ladder, I’m good until about the fourth rung. That’s when my knees start to weaken and my mind is filled with thoughts of tumbling backward and landing on my head. My kids think it’s funny. They like to poke fun at me about it. Vacationing at the Grand Canyon a few years ago gave them ample opportunity. The view for me was enjoyed a comfortable ten yards from any rail, lest I might uncontrollably launch myself into that great American abyss.
I don’t know what trauma gave birth to my acrophobia. Perhaps it was long ago when I was power-washing the cedar shakes on our roof to rid them of the oak saplings that had taken shallow root there. Slipping on a wetted tile, I nearly slid off the roof, clutching a corner of the house at the last moment to avoid a fifteen foot plummet. Or maybe I blocked some childhood trauma of being dropped on my head. Regardless, there’s no doubting it. I’m a Terra Firma Man. I prefer both feet solidly planted on the ground as God intended.
But Terra Firma Man met his match last week. Vacationing at Lake Tahoe provides a lot of exciting activities: hiking, biking, jet skiing, swimming and, gulp, parasailing. Nope! There’s no way you’d get me up there tethered to a rope 450 feet above water held in suspension by lawn chair straps. No way.
No way, that is, until my boys started to work on me. That’s when I learned that parasailing was on Joshua’s “bucket list”—you know, like in the movie, the things you must do before you kick the bucket. As a 17-year old, I explained, that he had more time to do his list than I had to do mine, and parasailing wasn’t anywhere to be found on my bucket list. It was impeccable logic. It was settled. I would remain grounded.
Until…something inside me spoke up. Something about creating memories that my boys will cherish. Something about loving them uncomfortably. Something said, “Yes. I’ll do it.” Once the words were out, there was no turning back. When Jonathan, my 15-year old also wanted to go, I said, “Sure. All three of us can go up together in tandem.” It wasn’t until the boat was underway that I discovered we would exceed their weight limit for a three person tandem. That’s when our “helpful” captain suggested that I could take turns going up with each of the boys separately. Terra Firma Man was a goner.
How was the experience? It was both exhilarating and terrifying. Yet, it was also highly (sorry) bonding. Viewing a sunset on Lake Tahoe from a parasail is spectacular. Viewing it with your child, and showing them you’re there because you love them, is priceless.
Yes, Terra Firma Man met his match. He loves his kids more than the ground beneath his feet. And for a time, that sent him soaring.
What uncomfortable ways have you found to tell your kids you love them?