Lessons Learned At The Indoor Playground

August 26, 2012 at 1:08 am

Our daughters never cease to amaze me.  Spending time with them today reminded me of a lesson I had learned years ago that’s easy to forget.

My wife enjoyed a well deserved day at the spa where she celebrated her two sister’s milestone birthdays with their mother.  That left me to some quality daddy/daughter time.

My initial suggestion (“Let’s go camping!”) was shot down with extreme vigor.  What can I say? They are their mother’s daughters.

Alexa at a low point. Moments before she unknowingly drops knowledge on her dad.

We ended up discovering an indoor play center that I had never heard of complete with bounce houses, skating rink, arcade, and playground.  Perfect.

Our daughters can be deliberate, extremely cautious, and downright timid at times.  So the idea of a new environment with kids they don’t know in a space that is foreign to them can be difficult to crack.  My older daughter is at an age now where these type of places have become too “baby-ish” for her, but she still runs, climbs, jumps and plays enough for me to know she enjoys the time.  My little one isn’t quite old enough to tackle all of the obstacles a monstrous place like this throws at her, or at least that’s what I thought.

We tried roller skating, something we’ve done with our big girl before, but not as often with our youngest.  Neither one of them really felt safe with skates on their feet, but I was proud to see Leah go from skittering down a padded rail to doing laps around the room free of aid.  She went from hesitant to confident in a matter of minutes.  Here’s where the memory of this lesson begins to crystallize.  By the end of the skate, both were anxious to try something new.

Fear of falling? Conquered.

That moved us to the multilevel jungle gym.  You’ve seen these, right? Just massive, screened in, sprawling platforms of play.  Again, Leah took the lead while Alexa tentatively tried her hardest to keep up.  Then it happened.  Alexa climbed up a level higher than she had before.  Then another level.  And another.  Before I knew it she was at the top of the gym swinging across a zip line with her big sister.  She was so happy to show me how high she had climbed.  She clapped her hands with excitement before she gave me a wave to let me know I didn’t have to worry about her anymore.

What our daughters did resonated with me.  They completely left their comfort zone, took a risk, and came out of it happier than they had previously been.  They was scared, sure.  But by the time we had to go, they had conquered every challenge presented to them.

Ain’t that life? We get into our routines.  We do what we have to do.  We master tasks to a point where we begin to lose our passion for them.  We forget what we are truly capable of accomplishing.  We lose the ability to live our life by design.  We live in a culture that has become so risk averse, we, at times, forget how much we can improve if we continue to push and challenge ourselves.

It’s not easy.  It can be scary as hell.  We’re going to go through experiences we’ve never been through before.  We might have to lose everything in order to find our true happiness. But if a toddler can do it (and make it look easy, by the way) why can’t we?