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Aug 03

What Mothering Looks Like with an 11 year old

We went to Great Wolf Lodge on Friday with the kids.  And I have literally never before seen Sam as happy as he was on Friday night.  It was adorable, because he was just so excited to be there.  Sam’s a water park kind of kid.  He loves swimming, loves waterslides, is happy to play in the little kid section with Julianna and even happier to line up to do the big scary waterslides as well.  There was an arcade, two queen size beds next to each other so that he could jump from one to the other – it was very nearly heaven for my eight year old.

Julianna was a little less enthused.  She likes the water.  Kind of.  She does NOT like getting splashed or having water sprayed at her (which is kind of the whole point of the water park for her age).   But she was relatively happy, as long as one of us was right there with her.  Marc let her dump water directly onto his head, so he definitely scored as the more fun parent to supervise her.

My Jessica… she liked a lot of things at the hotel.  The wave pool was a big hit, and she’s always been a fan of the lazy river ride (where you just drift along on a floaty).  She’s a relatively competent swimmer, but she’s not particularly adventurous.  Bike riding is too scary for her, she’s the last one to want to do anything physical.  She doesn’t wrestle with Marc, she doesn’t climb trees, she hates any game that involves throwing a ball her way.  She’s me, essentially.  And I was afraid of waterslides for the longest time.

It was Sam that got me past my fear of waterslides.  I didn’t want him to be afraid, and when he asked me to take him, I did.  It’s not that I wouldn’t have taken Jessie, but she never asked.  I offered, I think, but she’s always been afraid.  So Sam’s been a waterslide boy for years, but Jessie always refused.

But yesterday – she did it.  I pushed her, and I was really conflicted about it – should you push a child to do what she’s terrified of?  What if she chickens out at the last minute and then feels terrible about disappointing me?  I don’t want her to feel bad about who she is, and if she’s someone who honestly hates the idea of doing stuff like that – maybe I should just let it go.   But I really thought she’d love it, and I pushed.  I asked her several times, and then I finally said that I really wanted her to do it, at least once.  If she hated it, I wouldn’t ever ask her to do it again.  I told her that there was nobody in the whole world who was more on her side than her dad and I, and I would never ask her to do something she couldn’t do – and that she shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity for something awesome just because she was too scared to try.

She was so brave, because I knew she was terrified.  But she did it anyway – and it ended up being her favorite part of the park.

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