I have always been a big believer in ‘Life Experiences’. Unlike some of my good friends who tend to lean on the cautious side, I have always been a ‘Go try it!’ kind of mom.
I encourage my kids to touch and feel everything (within reason) and to not be afraid to put themselves out there.
For example, we were vacationing many years ago with a good friend of mine and her family. One night the resort held a talent show for its guests. My children, then 6 and 8, both wanted to participate. “What a fun idea!” I told them and went to find out where to sign them up. My daughter danced an unchoreographed routine to whatever song they put on. She leapt, twirled, shook and had a blast while the crowd cheered her on. My son then took the mic to do his impersonation of Napolean Dynamite that had the crowd roaring and clapping. Was their talent amazing? No.
Was it entertaining? For a resort talent show, I would say definitely!
More important than the footage I captured on my camcorder that night was what I truly told my kids without words. I told them not to be afraid to try. I encouraged them and clapped louder than anyone else in the audience! The show would have gone on if they hadn’t participated, the only difference is the obvious… they wouldn’t have participated!
They wouldn’t have felt their feet on that stage, the support of the crowd, the smiles from mom and dad. Neither of my kids were discovered on that little island by some big Disney exec and they didn’t land their own pilot series, so really their life wouldn’t have been tremendously altered if they hadn’t participated at all. Or would it have been?
I am happy to say that today my kids aren’t afraid to take chances. They will try out for things without the fear of a ‘no’ because they understand that there may be a ‘yes’ and either way they won’t live their lives wondering ‘what if…’.
I also witnessed another child who wanted to participate in the show that evening. Her mom told her something to the effect of ‘What would you do? You don’t want to embarrass yourself.’ I wanted to say “EMBARRASS YOURSELF! Go ahead and have fun! Wear a funny hat and juggle your dads flip-flops!” I don’t blame the mom. I know that in her mind she was protecting her child from what she saw as a scary situation. We are, after all, a product of what we have been taught. It is in our nature to protect our kids from failure or ridicule.
My daughter recently soared through the air on a bungee (a horrible, scary thing that I would have to be heavily medicated to even consider!). Every part of me wanted to tell her ‘NO!’ and I did tell her that I personally wouldn’t do it, but still watched with the camera and cheered as they pushed my princess off the step over 100 feet above my head. Life experiences…. remember it’s THEIR life to experience and it is our job to cheer and hold the camera.