As I stepped off the platform onto the first mid-air obstacle, 15’ off the ground, I felt what my daughter feels all the time…
Raising kids, you hear that a lot. But you don’t realize how often kids face their fears and dive into something new until you do it yourself…adults just aren’t used to getting out of their comfort zones. But kids do it all the time.
I was mid-air at the Sandy Spring Adventure Park, a fantastic operation of zip-lines and obstacle courses for all levels of humans above the age of 7. It’s safe–you are harnessed and clipped in at all times. But that doesn’t erase the fear factor.
Suddenly my daughter’s trepidation at riding her bike unassisted, and swimming in the deep end, and skiing a little faster—it all became viscerally clear. People can tell you “you’re safe” and “it’ll be okay” all day long, but when you have to rely on your physical skills and you have this fear to overcome…it’s scary.
My boyfriend is a strapping, 6’4” athlete, yet his fear of heights had him sweating like crazy halfway through the first basic obstacle course at Sandy Spring. Maybe his parents didn’t let him get hurt enough as a child. This recent article from the New York Times highlights the research showing “A child who’s hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.”
Eureka! A New York Times article that makes me feel smug about something I’d feel super guilty about otherwise!
I work on playgrounds for a living, which means working on how children learn by overcoming various physical and social challenges. I love seeing my kids gain new skills. Last month, my daughter mastered the monkey bars. And since basketball season started, my son has been dribbling incessantly around the house.
I appreciate it all the more since I worked my way up to the black diamond obstacle course. Next year, the double-black.