Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Jumping Off the Deep End Part

She eyed the family checking out the rope swing. There were only two boys initially willing to insert their feet into the bottom loop, hang on to the upper loops with their hands, and swing wide over the river and back to the beach again. One of them glided knee deep into the water and right back out again with the swinging momentum. The river water was cool but comfortable due to the hot summer day at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Beatrice kept eyeing the boys and then pointed. "Daddy, I want to go on the rope swing."

Bryce stayed busy with her floaty, battling the little rapids of the low river. I thought, Do you really want to go on that, Bea? I don't think you'll do it.

"Are you sure, Sweetie?"

"Yes, I want to try it. I may not go in the water, but I want to try the swing."

I knew it was more about wanting to be a part of the boys' adventure time than the boys themselves (although there is a boy she "likes" from school, which is another Daddy article for another time). And now there were even more boys swinging on the rope and plopping into the deeper part of the calm river. There were still a few others climbing up the cliff on the other side of the river and jumping into it from about 10 to 15 feet up.

"Let's try it out, Beatrice," the Mama said.

"I want to do it too!" Bryce called out.

Well, let's see where this goes.

Bryce has always been the bolder of the two girls, which in turn motivates Beatrice, since she is the big sister in this equation, looking even older because of their disparate physical sizes (nearly 6 and 8 years old now, closer in age than in size). Also all the swimming lessons that led up to our Maui summer adventure had paid off exponentially, with both girls swimming not only in the pools, but also in the sea with plenty of snorkeling as well. We were so happy that they're finally more relaxed in the water, and safer now that they had a basic swimming foundation underneath them. It took Bea a lot longer than Bryce to get there -- and Amen, they're both there now. They won't be surfing Steamer Lane any time soon, but based on their growing confidence and bravery of late in the water (and out), soon may be sooner than later.

I watched my lovely wife walk the girls over to where the rope swing was. Lo and behold, Beatrice let the Mama talk her through it and help her position her right foot and hands into the rope loops without hesitation. I immediately headed their way.

"Wow, look at this. Right on, Beatrice," I said. "Your legs are good, but you need to hold on with big, strong arms, too."

There was no fear on my daughter's face, only determination. Suddenly she was swinging across the river and back again, completely jazzed by this new exhilarating experience. 

"I want to do it again!" she shouted.

Go baby go!

"Great job, Beatrice," the Mama and I said together, let her swing away over the river.

That Bryce, she just barrels into new experiences head first, much more often than her sister. However, this time it was her big sister who enticed her to try. 

"My turn!" Bryce yelled.

The girls took a few turns each and then some of the boys came back from jumping and swimming and wanting to swing again. Bryce got distracted and befriended some other younger kids playing fetch with an energetic dog unafraid of bounding into the water to retrieve the stick in its jaws. 

That's when Beatrice said, "I want to jump off the cliff over there."

I'm sorry, what? Just a few weeks earlier, they witnessed me jumping off Black Rock from a height of 30 feet, something I never thought I'd do in a million years; I'm not a big fan of heights to say the least.

I did it, though. I climbed right up there and looked over the edge -- and jumped. Splash!

I'll never ever friggin' do that again. But still, I did it. 

I didn't think Beatrice would ever jump from a cliff off any size any time soon. She did, though. She actually jumped from ultimately around 4-5 feet. Granted she had her floaty around her waist, which was fine, because she jumped over and over again, all by herself, a little higher each time.

All this jumping and swinging of course is supervised by us, the Mama and the Daddy. But mercy me, we're proud. Now, if we can continue to help both girls develop appropriate risk-taking and sound decision-making skills through the rest of childhood, their turbulent teen years and eventually to the jumping off the deep end part of adulthood, that's a big bold win for us all.

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