Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fostering an Adventurous Spirit

I have read about boys being adventurous.  I have heard about how men and boys always need a challenge to feel like they are alive.  But only recently have I begun to see it in my own sons.

We went to the basketball court in our neighborhood to play and have a dinner time picnic.  My middle was happy to run around aimlessly and throw or kick the ball.  Even if it hit him in the head he would cheer for himself.  My oldest however, was valiantly trying to make it in the basket.  He tried to throw it underhand, overhand, with one hand and with two but he just couldn't make it into the regulation height hoop.  Discouraged, he walk away saying he just wanted to go home.  We told him everybody else was having fun so we were going to stay.  My husband offered again to help him with his shot but he declined.  He made his way to the 10 foot chain link fence and said, "Think I could climb this?"  

I deferred to my husband knowing that a mother's first response would be, "Are you nuts!?  You'll break your arm!  It's not safe!!"  My husband looked him in the eyes and said, "Let's give it a shot."  My oldest ran full speed to the fence and started his ascent.  

He wasn't fearful.  He was determined.


My husband was good about spotting him but letting him accomplish this on his own.  Finally, he reached the top.

"I did it!  Mommy I touched the top!" he yelled over and over.  He slowly made his way back down but his spirits were sky high.  He ran over to me with a sparkle in his eye.  "I can't believe that I could do that," he said.  "That was so awesome."

I couldn't believe he could do it either.  He has always been fearful about risk taking and yet, here he was, climbing a ten foot (or more!) fence.  I realized that he needed to succeed.  He needed to push himself and meet the challenge.  And he did.

As they grow, I hope that I continue to let them challenge themselves in ways that build them up but still keep them safe.  I hope that I keep most of my "BE CAREFUL!" thoughts to myself.  (Except when he wants to jump off the roof into the pool.  That idea I definitely needed to nix.)

How do you let your children explore their adventurous spirit?  How can you give them safe opportunities to do so?


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