Saturday, 19 May 2018

A learning experience

Last weekend, BigBear abandoned us for the day went to a football match, leaving me pondering what LittleBear and I could do instead. LittleBear was somewhat peeved not be allowed to go to the football match, but given it was 200 miles away and he doesn't like the sound of a hairdryer, let alone 25,000 roaring fans, we declined to give him the chance to go. I was somewhat disappointed not to be able to go, as it's now coming up for seven years since I went to a match in the flesh, and it would be nice to go again. So we deserved to do something fun together.

And so we did. I booked LittleBear in for a session at the local fun climbing centre. But, knowing my LittleBear as I do, I knew that fear and uncertainty were a potential risk, and that he needed a little compatriot to climb with, to encourage and inspire him. So we went with FearlessFriend and her younger (slightly more fearful) brother.

We sat through the safety briefing, with LittleBear on my lap, not quite brave enough to be separated from the security of my arms. With many glances over his shoulder and anxious frowns and shrugs cast my way, he made his way to the front to be fitted with a harness, before darting back to me to examine clips and buckles together. The safety briefing including the imprecation that non-climbers were not to enter the "arena" unless it was absolutely necessary and they were wearing a hi-viz jacket, and that unless you had a particularly small child who needed your presence, parents should stay firmly ring-side. And since FearlessFriend had NervousBrother, their mother (my friend) opted to be a hi-vized parent, while I looked after our bags and what seemed like 37 coats and jumpers.

And, as I suspected/feared, LittleBear was rather unsure of himself. In fact, on his first few attempts, he looked like nothing more than a frog that someone had nailed to the wall, unable to move any limbs as they were all splayed around him with no possible purchase to push or pull himself in any direction. I stood, out of range of instruction, virtually hopping from foot to foot, itching to give my boy some tips on how to use his reach and upper body strength in combination with his legs to ascend.

Climbing frog getting stuck
But, I was too far away for him to hear, and I was not one of the privileged few in the arena, so I had to remain on the sidelines, developing a nervous tic as I suppressed the urge to dash in and offer suggestions. And LittleBear barely got above his own height off the ground.

But then, he watched FearlessFriend romp to the top of a climb. And he watched other children, and how they tackled it. And he went and queued up to try something he preferred the look of. Before I knew it, he was finding his own techniques, and using his body with increasing strength and agility, until he made his way to the top of a climb.

LittleBear conquers the wall

He was not a natural at it, as FearlessFriend was, but he worked it out himself. And he kept trying, and he didn't give up, and he didn't need me to tell him what to do or how to be better. And he came out of the arena with a huge smile on his face, asking if we could climb every week, and asking if he could have his birthday party there.

And I need to remember this. I need to remember that he can and should try and fail, and try again, and fail again, and keep trying. And that he will find enormous rewards and pride in managing without me, no matter how much I want to "help". And this may be the hardest lesson I have to learn - when to step in, and when to step back. Because I don't step back enough at the moment, and I need to, because when I was forced to, he didn't sink, he flew.

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