Normal is a four letter word. Extraordinary is the new black.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fear and Adventure...

A couple of years ago, Graysen had banned us from using the word adventure around him. Whenever we used the word adventure, it usually meant that he would be required to put on clothing that was not PJ's, and leave the house, to experience something unexpected and unknown. This series of events was a surefire recipe for him falling in that hole in the living room, or spiralling into a pit of horror. 

Fortunately, in our life, we have friends that are family, and they are more than willing to overuse a word right along with us until all the stigma has left it. Conversations at our house during that time went a little something like, 
"I love drinking coffee. It is such an ADVENTURE to try it with different ingredients. Perhaps, we should ADVENTURE outside into the yard and get the kids to play a game of ADVENTUROUS ADVENTURE. I love ADVENTURE. Do you like ADVENTURE? Oh you do? We are just two awesome ADVENTURING girls enjoying life's ADVENTURE."

It took a little while, but now, once again, adventure is an authorized word. Even better, on a walk home from school last week, Graysen said out of the blue, "Adventure can be uncomfortable and scary, but it's okay." Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! We stopped right then and there and I hugged the heck out of him, because, that my friends, is a breakthrough.

He's right. Adventure can be uncomfortable and scary, but if you let the fear rule, life can pass you by. 

Last Friday started with a road trip to 100 Mile House. Caylen, had rehearsal that weekend, so he stayed home with daddy. When he wasn't at rehearsal and daddy wasn't at work, they bonded over old horror movies. Win win. 

Gorgeous old church on the highway to 100 Mile House. I begged me to pull over and take a picture of it's awesomeness.
The two little kids, and momma, went for a drive. Graysen got to ride up in Uncle Greg's big semi, so it was just the girls driving through the canyon. Road trips are all adventure. Something about driving down a curvy scenic highway, tunes blaring, makes this momma feel free and gleeful. Underneath that joy, is just a touch of fear. That knowledge of the accidents that can happen on the highway, rock slides, blowouts. All those things that are very real risks on a road trip, but if you let the risk and fear rule, you miss the trip entirely.

Love the rocky barren geography as we get further inland.

One of the jobs of raising kids, is teaching them the risks involved in anything that they try. It is teaching them, what to be alert and aware about, and then, often, it is teaching them to do it anyways. While most adventure includes risk, life is the leading cause of death for which there is no cure, and arriving at the end of life having missed out on living is tragic. 

Being a parent, I now realize raising these humans, is the biggest adventure I will experience. Fear and risk are around every corner. Underneath all the joy of watching them grow up, is the realization that to help them grow, they must be allowed to risk, to try, to step away from our protection, and adventure themselves. To smile and encourage them through that, is a very hard thing indeed, and it is a reality of parenting that we aren't warned about.

Quiet early morning coloring sessions are a beautiful balance to the rest of the adventurous day.

Being at our friends was all adventure. There are animals all around, and wheelbarrows to use as cars. There are quads to ride through forest trails to abandoned cabins in the woods.

Our dear friends' amazing, fearless daughter, who can take on a quad trail with the best of them. I love this girl with all my heart and soul.

Someone lived here at one point. Now, it's just home to tiny frogs and the occasionally passing herd of cows.

There is walking through the forest looking for a bear that is getting a little too familiar with people. If you had told ten years ago me, that I would be walking through the forest with my friend and her neighbour hunting a bear, you'd better believe I would have told you that you were insane. However, the reality is that, becoming a momma, my mantra in parenting was, "never say never", and it turns out that my, 'momma bear, keep my babies safe from wandering hungry bear', is stronger that my crunchy, tree hugging, 'give peace a chance' side.

It was unsettling letting the kids play outside, knowing there were adventurous animals around. However, I am stunting them when I allow my fears, to taint them.

Everyday, we have to make Graysen try things that scare him. Sometimes it's teaching him that a loose molar that hurts, does not mean he's dying. Sometimes, it's telling him to allow a friend that is a nursing student to take his blood pressure. Some days, it's taking him for a ride in the forest and making him get out and explore an open field at the top of a mountain.

It's also getting him to try to drive a mini quad even though the part of me that wants to keep him in a safe bubble says, "Oh hell no!" 

**Disclaimer** Yes we are aware that quads are dangerous. So is driving in a vehicle, biking in traffic, climbing trees and jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. This is a supervised activity, like any other, that runs the risk of accident or injury no matter how cautious. Also, yes he is wearing shorts in this photo, as it is after the crash and he is driving at "Driving Miss Daisy" speed. The goal was to get him back on. Next time he's up to speed it will be in full body armour, compliments of mom.

Graysen, who had previously, (under very watchful adult eyes) learned to drive a side by side buggy, tried his hand at driving a mini quad. After responsible adult lessons, and under very watchful eyes, he was soon zipping around our friends property, with their son in hot pursuit. Funny enough, learning to swim, or ride a bike was terrifying, however, apparently riding a mini-quad, was no big. Soon enough he developed a blister which we dubbed his "quadding finger". We proclaimed this an important quadding milestone, pushing him through his underlying, "I'm going to die of a flesh wound" fear. A bandaid, a pair of gloves and a "no big deal" attitude, got him back on the quad, unaware that soon, he was going to experience something that would put that blister in perspective.

This weekend Graysen learned about inertia, and speed. I was watching him come around for what was probably his 50th lap and realized that he was going a little too fast. As I was about to yell for him to slow down, he hit the brakes, turned the wheel and learned that a quad will not change it's direction of travel at that speed. All I saw was him going off and the quad going over. When the dust cleared he was on his feet and the quad was on all four wheels. Other than some scrapes and bruises, he was fine. Thankfully that same nursing student friend was there to reassure momma that all was well. 

It scared the hell out of him. I thought to myself, "What have I done? This kid, that fights leaving the house for fear of something bad happening, has just had his worst fears confirmed." I played through how I could have prevented it. I was frustrated that it had to be him that it happened to. I worried quietly that this would set him back in his willingness to go outside. Truth be told, before the dust cleared I was scared to look, I just ran blindly in the direction of the cloud, thinking my worst fears had been realized. However, this was not the time to listen to the fear. This was the time to teach. To learn.

We sat on the deck, and snuggled and we talked. I asked him if he understood what happened? I taught him about inertia, about how to avoid the same thing. He told me he saw his life flash before his eyes. I told him, I knew what that was like because when I was a kid I fell off a cliff. I told him, that he had to get back on that quad and try again. I told him that, even though fear told me to shut my mouth.

He was reluctant to get back on the quad and, fear wanted me to leave it alone. It was the motivating fear of him being an adult, afraid to leave his home that was stronger and in the end, and with momma's reluctant insistance, he got back on the quad and tried again.

Parenthood, is a great adventure, and there are a million moments of fear that come with it. It is that first time you let a kid go to something unchaperoned with friends. It is letting them cross the road alone, ride their bike to the store. Fear of them being hurt by peers, having their heart broken, breaking a bone, getting's all there.

It is the constant companion to this great adventure of parenthood, where we teach them to live, to embrace life and all it's messy adventure and the fears and excitement that come with it. Life is an adventure, and each day we take those steps forward into the adventure. Raising little humans is in part teaching them that while those steps forward can be scary, they can also be amazing, and without taking them, we really aren't living. 


  1. You are such an inspiring writer! What a beautiful adventure!

  2. You bring tears to my eyes. Parenting is such a huge adventure and I too struggle with letting my children go and leaving them to fall over and pick themselves up again.


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